Vatican’s secretary of state, Italian cardinal Pietro Parolin who is second only to the Pope in the hierarchy of the Vatican will be called as a witness to testify in the controversial ‘VatiLeaks’ trial over leaked confidential documents about Vatican finances.
Vatican judges have granted a request by one of the defendants to have several eminent Vatican officials take stand as witnesses in the ongoing VatiLeak trial.
Other officials who will be called to testify are: Cardinal Santos Abril Castello, president of the cardinal’s commission that oversees the Institute for Religious Works; Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the Vatican’s chief alms-giver; Auxiliary Bishop Augusto Lojudice of Rome; and Mgr Alfredo Abbondi, an official at the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
Under the Vatican criminal code, it is an offense to take,give out and publish confidential documents.
Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, whose books revealed mismanagement, waste and free spending by cardinals as well as the extent of the resistance to Pope Francis’ drive for greater accountability and transparency was published last month in Italy,and risk up to eight years imprisonment if found guilty.
There are three other defendants, accused of divulging confidential information, and documents concerning fundamental interests of the Holy See and (Vatican City) State to the journalists: Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, his aide Nicola Maio, and Italian PR consultant Francesca Chaouqui.
In seeking to distance the Holy See from the controversy, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman,issued a detailed statement on Monday saying many of the criticisms were “inappropriate, or at times entirely unjustified.”
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman said Nuzzi and Fittipaldi had complained that they were not given a chance to look properly at the evidence collected against them, and denied representation by their regular Italian lawyers.
The witness list requested by Italian PR consultant Francesca Chaouqui’s lawyer, Laura Sgro, was granted despite objections made by Vatican prosecutors. However, the judges said that they may only take the stand to testify on specific matters regarding the case and not as character witnesses for Chaouqui.
The Vatican judges also granted witness requests made by the defendants Mgr Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi; their witnesses include several journalists and communications experts.
Requests and objections were presented by the five lawyers of the defendants after several days of severe investigations on the charges of their cases. The Vatican court has granted a recess and adjournment for the next session of the trial to all the defendants’ lawyers time to properly review documentations, e-mails, and text messages exchanged so far amidst their clients. The date of the next trial session wasn’t announced.
Shortly after the court adjourned, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said in a statement that the defendants will be guaranteed a fair trial under the Vatican’s judicial system and described as “inappropriate” and “entirely unjustified” reports that their right to an adequate defense was in question.
“In this respect, it is necessary to avoid a basic mistake: the current Vatican legislation, applied by the legal authorities, is perfectly in line with procedural law in the majority of jurisdictions throughout the world,” he said.