Vatican allows more defence witnesses in leaks trial

Vatican City, Dec 8 (IANS/AKI) A Vatican court agreed to allow second-in-command and other top advisers to Pope Francis be witnesses in the trial of five people over the leaks of stolen confidential Vatican documents.

It remains to be seen if secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin will actually testify, or Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, the president of the Commission of Cardinals of the Vatican bank, another possible witness.

The court’s decision followed a request by defendant Francesca Chaouqui, a public relations expert who along with a senior clergyman and his assistant are accused of forming a criminal organisation and of stealing and leaking the confidential documents.

The trio faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty.

Also in the dock are two Italian journalists who used the documents in recently published tell-all books detailing greed, corruption and poor management by senior churchmen and resistance by the old guard to Pope’s attempts to reform the Vatican.

The reporters were accused of publishing news based on confidential Holy See documents and of “soliciting and exercising pressure” to obtain the documents. They face up to eight years in prison if convicted.

The Vatican was widely criticised for prosecuting the journalists, a move seen as harming freedom of speech and information.

The court also agreed on Monday to admit more text messages and emails, as well as letters and the results of a psychiatric exam of the monsignor on trial — Lucio Vallejo Balda — as evidence.

The trial resumed on Monday after being adjourned for a week at the request of Chaouqui to allow more time to prepare her defence after she hired a new lawyer.


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