Cardinal Angelo Becciu was present on Tuesday, July 27, on the first day of a major Vatican finance trial. Charges include embezzlement and abuse of office.
Newsroom (July 28, 2021, 9:00 PM Gaudium Press ) – Cardinal Becciu is one of 10 defendants in the Vatican’s largest trial for financial crimes in the modern era. The cardinal faces a Vatican tribunal for the first time since Pope Francis changed norms in April to allow cardinals and archbishops to be tried by lay judges.
“Cardinal Becciu, after today’s hearing, renews his confidence in the Tribunal, the impartial judge of the facts hypothesized only by the Promoter of Justice, as yet without any confrontation with the defense and with a view to the presumption of innocence,” the statement from lawyer Fabio Viglione said.
The hearing took place in a multipurpose room of the Vatican Museums recently modified for use by the court. The next audience is scheduled for Oct. 5 after several of the defence lawyers asked for more time to prepare. Thirty lawyers attended the hearing, with some making motions and raising complaints about procedural issues.
In this trial, the Vatican court is made up of a three-judge panel consisting of tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone, and two Italian law professors: Venerando Marano and Carlo Bonzano.
Defendant Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who worked in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and is charged with extortion and abuse of office, was also present at the seven-hour hearing on Tuesday. The remaining eight defendants were absent, only represented by their lawyers.
Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, Becciu’s former chief deputy at the Secretariat of State, was also investigated as part of the London property scandal but is not among the defendants in this summer’s trial. Vatican prosecutors identified Perlasca’s testimony, provided over several interviews, as essential for reconstructing “some central moments” in the affair.
But at Tuesday’s hearing, a defence lawyer argued that Perlasca’s testimony from five interviews, in which he had no lawyer present, should be considered “inadmissible.”
A Vatican prosecutor argued that the depositions were legitimate because they were videotaped and “voluntary.”
Cardinal Becciu said in a statement that he would be suing Perlasca and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui (another person questioned by investigators) “for slander for the very serious and completely false statements made during the investigations to the Promoter of Justice.”
At the end of the hearing, Cardinal Becciu told journalists that he is “obedient to the pope who sent me to trial, I have always been obedient to the pope, he entrusted me with many missions in my life, he wanted me to come to trial and I am coming to the trial. I am calm, I feel calm in conscience, I have the confidence that the judges will be able to see the facts well and my great hope is the certainty that they recognize my innocence.”
With files from CNA