Spanish Monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, who is on trial for disclosing confidential Holy See documents finally admitted on Monday that he had leaked information to the journalists but implied he was pressurized into it by a fellow-member of the Pope’s financial reform commission, Francesca Chaouqui, a woman he was involved with romantically at the time.
“Yes, I passed documents,” the former secretary of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs said in response to questions from a Vatican prosecutor. “I did it spontaneously, probably not fully lucid.”
“I was convinced I was in a situation without exit,” he said.
Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi last year published books based on documents which Vatican officials say they received from Francesca Chaouqui, Monsignor Vallejo and his assistant, Nicola Maio.
Following a recess of three months, the Spanish Monsignor was questioned at the resumption of the trial. He testified Monday that he had given author of one of the books some 85 passwords to private emails and password-protected documents.
Pregnant Chaouqui, who is also standing trial says she is innocent.
The monsignor claimed that Francesca Chaouqui had issued threats to him saying she would reveal the romantic sexual relationship they had. Mgr Vallejo Balda told the court he became doubtful of Chaouqui’s character, saying she told him she was “a high-ranking member of Italy’s secret services” and that he suspected she had ties with the Mafia.
He also claimed that Corrado Lanino, Chaouqui’s husband and the IT technician for the commission, had sent increasingly aggressive and threatening text messages, pressuring him to find a job for Chaouqui given that her term at the pontifical commission was ending.
All this, he testified, “gave me the moral certainty that there were illegitimate things behind Chaouqui.”
Nuzzi and Fittipaldi face up to eight years in prison if convicted of putting pressure on Vallejo to obtain the documents and publish them. Vallejo, Chaouqui and Maio are accused of forming a criminal organization and providing the documents.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi told journalists on March 12 that Monsignor Vallejo Balda was returned to the Vatican’s jail a few days ago after investigators discovered he had violated the terms of his house arrest by communicating with reporters by phone.
Fr Lombardi told reporters Mgr Vallejo Balda would continue testifying today and that the trial would most likely continue until after Easter.