Cardinal troubles Vatican cop about hostage payments

VATICAN Metropolis (AP) — The Vatican’s fraud and corruption demo took a spectacular twist Wednesday when a after-highly effective cardinal challenged the Vatican’s police commissioner on the stand about one of the extra peculiar tangents of the case: the Vatican’s 50 percent-million euro payments to a self-styled stability analyst who, with Pope Francis’ blessing, aided arrange negotiations for the release of a nun held hostage by Islamic militants.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu created a spontaneous declaration to the Vatican tribunal for the duration of the interrogation of Commissioner Stefano De Santis, a major officer in the Vatican gendarmes law enforcement force and a vital prosecution witness. De Santis was just one of the main investigators in the probe that led to the demo above the Holy See’s 350 million euro expenditure in a London assets enterprise and relevant scenarios.

Vatican prosecutors have accused 10 individuals, together with Becciu, of a host of alleged money crimes and of fleecing the Holy See of tens of thousands and thousands of euros in service fees, fee and other losses.

De Santis was currently being questioned about one particular of the tangents of the London house offer, about Becciu’s relations with the protection analyst, Cecilia Marogna.

Becciu, who was the No. 3 in the Vatican secretariat of point out at the time, has earlier instructed the court that he employed Marogna in 2015 as an external safety marketing consultant and subsequently involved her in negotiations to hire a British protection business to negotiate the release of a Colombian nun staying held hostage in Mali by al-Qaida-joined militants.

Becciu told the court docket in May perhaps that Francis experienced licensed expending up to 1 million euros to free of charge the nun, who was inevitably allow go final calendar year, although he pressured it wasn&#8217t ransom.

De Santis informed the court that the Vatican gendarmes discovered by using Interpol in 2020 that Marogna’s Slovenia-based mostly enterprise experienced received 575,000 euros in nine independent wire transfers from the secretariat of point out for purportedly “humanitarian” endeavors, but that the revenue was being utilised to pay out for cosmetics and other high-stop luxurious goods.

He said he and the Vatican’s police main went to Becciu’s condominium on Oct. 3, 2020 at the cardinal’s ask for and informed him what they experienced identified.

De Santis told the court that Becciu begged them to not allow word of the Marogna payments get out, declaring it would damage him and his household, and supplied to refund the funds from his account at the Vatican lender.

Becciu took challenge with De Santis’ model of occasions in his spontaneous address to the court, and reminded the a few-decide panel of his prior testimony: that the payments for the hostage negotiation had been agreed upon with Francis and that only he and the pope knew about them, w ith the Vatican gendarmes intentionally saved in the dim.

Becciu advised the courtroom that he did not ask for the meeting and discovered it odd that De Santis would reveal its contents considering that the law enforcement officers had instructed him at the time that it had to remain solution considering that there were expert implications about revealing the contents of an ongoing investigation.

Becciu claimed he was in fact anguished to discover that Vatican police have been investigating Marogna, but said his anguish experienced very little to do with his household but relatively the fact that Francis and he experienced hoped to keep the hostage negotiations solution.

Becciu is accused of abuse of workplace and alleged embezzlement for possessing sent 125,000 in Holy See resources to a Sardinian charity operate by his brother. Marogna is accused of fraud and embezzlement. Both equally deny wrongdoing.

The trial, which resumed late very last month soon after a summertime pause, has picked up speed and has practically 20 hearings scheduled before the close of the 12 months. Prosecutors have practically 30 witnesses and attorneys for the 10 defendants have dozens far more, which include the present-day Vatican No. 2 and 3.

Nicole Winfield, The Affiliated Press

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