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Vatican leaks trial adjourned for a week

30 novembre 2015 | 15.27
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Photo: AFP

A Vatican court on Monday suspended for a week its trial of two Italian investigative journalists and three other people for the theft and publication of secret documents in new tell-all books.

The court granted the seven-day adjournment at the request of laywoman Francesca Chaouqui, public relations expert. One of the five people in the dock in the controversial trial, she asked for more time to prepare her defence after hiring a new lawyer last week.

"I don't understand a thing. There is not one shred of evidence against me," Chaouqui told a small pool of reporters allowed to attend the trial as she left Monday's hearing, which lasted less than 15 minutes.

"We will need these five days to understand why I am here," she added.

The leaked stolen documents detailed alleged greed, corruption, wasteful spending and poor management inside the Vatican, as well as resistance by the old guard to Pope Francis' reform efforts.

Parts of the documents were published in two fast-selling books published this month by two of the other defendants in the trial, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi.

All five defendants attended Monday's hearing.

Nuzzi said on Monday he had seen "some but not all of the court documents". Both he and Fittipaldi have called the trial against them "Kafkaesque" asking why the Vatican was prosecuting them and not the prelates whose alleged wrongdoing their books expose.

Chaouqui claims she is a scapegoat in the case. Her co-accused, high-ranking clergyman Lucio Vallejo Balda's current lawyer plans to ask the court for his client to undergo psychiatric tests, Italian media have reported.

The fifth defendant at the trial, Vallejo Balda's aide Nicola Maio has not publicly commented on the trial.

Nuzzi and Fittipaldi are charged with publishing news based on confidential Holy See documents and "soliciting and exercising pressure" to obtain the documents and face up to eight years in prison if convicted.

Chaouqui, Vallejo Balda and Maio are accused of forming a criminal organisation and of procuring and leaking confidential documents. They face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty.

All five defendants have been charged with obtaining and disclosing confidential papers "concerning the fundamental interests of the Vatican State" under legislation introduced in 2013 after an earlier leaks scandal.

While denouncing the leaks, Francis has also decried corruption within the Vatican, most recently in a speech during his recent African pilgrimage, which ended on Monday in the Central African Republic.

The Vatican has been widely criticised for prosecuting Nuzzi and Fittipaldi, a move seen as harming freedom of speech and information.

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