President of the Vatican City State Tribunal Giuseppe Pignatone / Vatican Media
Vatican City, Jan 25, 2022 / 12:45 pm (CNA).
Prosecutors in the Vatican’s ongoing financial fraud trial have requested subpoenas for four defendants who were excluded from the trial late last year, and will reintroduce a charge of subornation of perjury against Cardinal Angelo Becciu.
The Jan. 25 hearing was the latest in the Vatican’s historic trial to prosecute Vatican collaborators and officials in connection to the Secretariat of State’s investment in a London property for 350 million euros ($396 million).
The trial, which began in July 2021 with 10 defendants, had encountered procedural problems. In October, the court ruled that the office of the prosecutor — called the Promoter of Justice — needed to re-do part of the investigation into several of the defendants.
Meanwhile, the trial had proceeded with six defendants, including Becciu, the highest-ranking cleric to be tried by the tribunal of Vatican City State in recent history.
On the morning of Jan. 25, the Promoter of Justice submitted paperwork for the re-indictment of Raffaele Mincione, Fabrizio Tirabassi, Nicola Squillace, and Msgr. Mauro Carlino.
The charge of embezzlement against Tommaso Di Ruzza, the former director of the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog, has been dropped.
Becciu, who for the first time was not present in the courtroom during a hearing, will again be charged with subornation of perjury, the crime of persuading a person to commit perjury.
Becciu is also charged with embezzlement and abuse of office. He has vigorously denied all the charges.
The start of Tuesday’s hearing was delayed for over two hours due to the filing of the requests for subpoenas.
Court President Giuseppe Pignatone said at the 40-minute hearing that the next court date, scheduled for Feb. 18, would be the first with the parallel investigations reunited into one trial.
Pignatone is also expected to give his decision on Feb. 18 regarding objections presented by defense lawyers on Tuesday.
Becciu’s lawyer is still calling for the trial to be thrown out, and complained on Tuesday that out of 255 computer files seized by prosecutors, only 16 have been released for examination by defense lawyers. And of those 16, the lawyers said, none would qualify as “forensic copies.”
Defense lawyer Fabio Viglione also asked the court to nullify the charges because, he said, in questions to star witness Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, prosecutors insinuated there was an immoral relationship between Becciu and another defendant, Cecilia Marogna.
According to Viglione, the defendant has the right not to be questioned on matters of morality.
Judge Pignatone asked the promoter of justice to confer with the defense attorneys on what documents they were missing by Jan. 31.