VATICAN CITY — The Vatican tribunal weighing a monetary fraud case heard from an uncommon witness Thursday, when a secret recording of Pope Francis was performed to the court docket concerning the Holy See’s funds to free a nun held hostage by al-Qaida-linked militants.
The published of the pope’s personal voice within the courtroom marked a surreal new chapter in a trial that has already seen loads of twists as Vatican judges attempt to decide who, if anybody, is criminally liable for dropping tens of thousands and thousands of euros in Holy See property.
Vatican prosecutors launched the recording into proof Thursday, saying it was a part of a trove of fabric not too long ago obtained from Italian monetary police who’re investigating a Sardinian charity linked to Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a onetime shut Francis collaborator who is among the 10 defendants within the Vatican trial.
Vatican prosecutors revealed that the Sardinian proof has additionally been added to a brand new Vatican investigation through which Becciu is beneath investigation for alleged felony conspiracy.
In keeping with Prosecutor Angelo Diddi, Becciu and a household affiliate secretly recorded Francis on July 24, 2021, three days earlier than the Vatican trial opened, when Becciu spoke to him by telephone from his Vatican residence. Whereas many of the defendants are dealing with prices associated to the Vatican’s 350-million-euro funding in a London property, Becciu is on trial for alleged abuse of workplace and embezzlement in relation to his dealings with the Sardinian charity and with a self-styled safety analyst who can be on trial, Cecilia Marogna.
Within the recording, Becciu asks Francis to basically affirm that the pope had licensed the funds to a British agency that Marogna had recognized to barter the liberty of a Colombian nun who was kidnapped in 2017 in Mali. Francis, who had simply been launched from a 10-day hospital keep, was acquainted with the case and basically concurred, based on a number of attorneys who heard the recording. The tribunal president ordered journalists to depart the courtroom in the course of the playback of the recording, on the grounds that it hadn’t but been formally admitted into proof.
Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez was kidnapped in Mali in February 2017 by al-Qaida within the Islamic Maghreb, which had bankrolled its insurgency by kidnapping Westerners. Throughout her captivity, the group periodically confirmed Narvaez on video asking for the Vatican’s assist.
Becciu had informed the court docket on Could 5 that he had raised her plight with Francis and that the pontiff had agreed to spend as much as 1 million euros to rent the British agency, Inkerman Group, to search out the nun and safe her freedom. She was ultimately launched final 12 months and met with the pope.
Whereas the recording solid a questionable mild on Becciu for having secretly recorded the pope, it substantiated claims by Becciu and different defendants that Francis was certainly acquainted with, and in some circumstances accepted, a number of the expenditures which are at challenge within the trial. There is no such thing as a provision within the Vatican legislation for the pope to be interrogated throughout a felony trial, however protection attorneys have stated they wish to ask him what he is aware of concerning the varied monetary selections, and stated the audio recording bolstered their argument that the pope’s testimony is essential to the trial.
Prosecutors have accused Italian brokers and Vatican officers of a bunch of economic crimes, together with fraud, embezzlement, corruption and abuse of workplace. Within the London case, they accuse the defendants of defrauding the Holy See and of then extorting 15 million euros from the Vatican to accumulate management of the property. The ten defendants all deny wrongdoing.
After phrase emerged of the brand new felony conspiracy investigation, Becciu’s attorneys late Thursday stated they knew of no such investigation towards the cardinal however that regardless “he strongly asserts his innocence” and was able to make clear his place.
For the primary time, the Vatican court docket heard this week that the Holy See misplaced greater than 100 million euros on the transaction of the property alone, after it bought the property this 12 months for some 186 million kilos after having spent 275 million kilos to purchase it.
The Vatican official most intently related to the deal, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, took the stand for the primary time Thursday in a number of the most eagerly anticipated testimony, and instantly blamed his deputy for the fiasco. Perlasca had initially been a key suspect within the investigation, however in August 2020 modified his story and is now thought-about an injured occasion within the case.
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