A year ago this week, prosecutors issued a nearly 500-page indictment in the Vatican financial scandal, charging ten people with crimes in Vatican City.
Since then, trial monitors have seen 12 months of legal back-and-forth, in the courtroom and in the press, with defendants (most of them) taking turns in front of judges to assert their innocence.
This week, the trial moves into the second half – attorneys for both sides will begin calling witnesses to help them argue their case.
So, for those of you tuning in as we head into year two of the Vatican Trial of the Century, The pillar present The Vatican Financial Trial â¢ Halftime Reportabsolutely not brought to you using funds intended for the charitable priorities of the Holy See.
The defendant’s lawyers sought to make rapid progress in the first months of the trial, launching a lightning offensive of procedural objections.
The defense is winning championships and defense attorneys lobbied the prosecution in the early rounds, with a series of objections over the filing of full transcripts of witness evidence and the way the investigation was conducted.
But the defense team failed to put many points on the board: after agreeing to reopen the investigative phase for several counts, prosecutors refiled all but one of the original charges.
Yet prosecutors haven’t lit up the scorecard either.
With the various defendants showing up in court to answer questions, there has been no obvious breakthrough to put prosecutors clearly in the lead.
As both sides prepare for the second half, the only one clearly behind is the Vatican itself – it has lost around 136 million euros, after confirming the final sale price of the London building at 60 Sloane Ave, the purchase of which launched the whole investigation and trial to begin.
Cardinal Angelo Becciu
All eyes have been on the Sardinian who, after Pope Francis sacked him from his curia team in September 2020, has transformed from Vatican midfield coordinator to fierce defender of his own reputation.
Whether trying to clarify allegations that he funneled hundreds of thousands of Church funds to family members’ personal accountsor tackle accusations that he used Vatican funds to pay for an off-the-books intelligence operation through Cecilia Marogna, the cardinal threw himself into the fray with his characteristic theatrical style.
Becciu had to make a controversial change in his tactics, however, after Pope Francis waived the protections of papal secrecy and left the cardinal uncovered.
Once an accomplished team player, Becciu left defensive responsibilities open during the trial, playing a sharp counter-attacking style, and toss the legal buck (and responsibility) back to its former captain, the Pope, on a range of sensitive issues â from private spies to London property deals.
To many in the stands, it looked like an unexpected performance from Becciu in the first half.
But real questions remain unanswered, both on his conduct as sostituto at the Secretariat of State, and on the ability of his defense to hold up under the sustained pressure of prosecution witnesses.
The flammable mafia star defense attorney turned Vatican prosecutor has been the face of the prosecution’s offense throughout the trial so far.
No one in the courtroom can doubt his passion for the game or his ability to get under the skin of the defendants.
Chief Justice Giuseppe Pignatone had to request several timeouts in the proceedings as tempers flared between Diddi and Cardinal Becciu on the court.
But for all his aggression in front of goal, few of Diddi’s shots found the back of the net.
As the trial enters the witness phase, much will depend on Diddi’s second half approach and his ability to find the right questions – and the right people to ask them. This will prove whether he has squandered his chances or pushed the defendants into a corner in the sessions so far.
The former Vatican fund manager saw his financial tactics repeatedly called into question in June, during his own round in front of the judges.
For his part, Mincione told the court that if the Secretariat of State had just followed its plan in the crucial year of 2018, everyone could have been a winner.
Instead, Becciu’s successor, Archbishop PeÃ±a Parra, called a now-famous audible and pulled Mincione’s secretariat investments early, costing them tens of millions in penalties and leaving them with a building they owned. suffered a big loss trying to sell.
But despite all his supposedly solid tactics, it’s Mincione’s side relationships that continue to command attention.
While he is currently on his third attempt to regain a good reputation in the high finance game, he still hasn’t received a consistent account from his relationship with Gianluigi Torzi, the man who brokered the Vatican’s exit from Mincione’s fund.
And even today, the Italian press reports new links with Enrico Crasso, the former Swiss banker and director of Vatican investments of Rocketman and road to nowhere celebrity.
According to the Domani newspaper, Crasso, who introduced Mincione to the secretary of state in 2014, received millions of euros from a Dubai-based company, which in turn secured investments from Mincione’s fund.
Always on the sidelines
While the court has now heard most of the defendants, some big players have yet to take the court.
Gianluigi Torziwho is technically on the loose after skipping bail following his Vatican arrest in 2020, has yet to make an appearance â he has spent much of the last year in London fight against extradition procedures to Italywhere he is wanted on a series of charges related to the crimes of extortion, money laundering, embezzlement and fraud he faces in the Vatican.
During his legal battles in the UK, Torzi brought colorful charges against his co-defendants, including that Crasso and former Secretary of State official Fabrizio Tirabassi bragged about blackmailing Vatican officials and offering him prostitutes before threatening him and his family to cede control of the London investment.
If Torzi showed up in the courtroom, it could be a game-changer.
Cecile Marogna also did not appear in Vatican City after rejecting an extradition request to Italian authorities in Milan in 2020.
The so-called geopolitical strategist and security consultant has previously told Italian media that she was working with Italian intelligence on behalf of the Vatican (which Italian spies denied) while also acting as a private spy for Becciu â she also claimed to have compiled files on private moral failings by senior Vatican officials for Becciu.
If she repeats those allegations in court, expect Becciu to have to find a new line of defense. Quick.
The Highlight Coil
What Next comes isn’t the intriguing part of the second half of the Vatican trial.
This is who then comes what really matters.
After hearing the defendants’ side of the story, it’s now up to prosecutors to bring in witnesses to defend their charges for them – and whoever they choose to call will speak volumes about how seriously they want run their business.
The ghost that haunts the courtroom – literally on one occasion – was Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, the star witness in the investigation that led to the current charges. So far, he has only been heard in excerpts of leaked video depositions, while his account has been roundly criticized by defendants in court.
Will he get the chance to speak?
Former Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and Becciu’s longtime sparring partner, Cardinal George Pell has publicly weighed in on ex-sostituto’s evidence in court already, but will he have the chance to show the judges what it was like to try to impose financial reform on the Secretariat of State, and what he found in trying?
Libero MiloneThe Vatican’s first auditor general was a high-profile casualty of the turf war between Becciu’s Secretariat of State and Pell’s Economics Secretariat in the years leading up to 2017.
Milone was forced to resign under threat of prosecution after Becciu accused him of “snooping” on his private financial affairs. His account of what he found could be very enlightening, given the current indictment facing the cardinal. But, Given that Becciu used his court appearance to personally link Milone’s ouster to Pope Francis, anyone’s guess is whether prosecutors feel they have the freedom to call Milone to testify.
And finally, hovering above the charges and accusations leveled at senior officials and advisers in his ministry was the Cardinal Secretary of State himself, Pietro Parolin.
According to what Becciu said, anything suspicious he could have approved of was done on the word of someone above or below him in the departmental pecking order, Becciu himself being essentially only than an incomprehensible official in the middle.
Given the appearance of his own signature on key documents in the London property deal, it will be interesting to see how Cardinal Parolin views how things have been done in his own department and where he thinks lies. responsibility.
Stay tuned, sports fans, you won’t want to miss all the second half action!