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Vatican leaks trial put on hold so pregnant defendant can rest

17 marzo 2016 | 19.05
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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The Vatican's trial of two Italian journalists, a high-ranking priest and two other people was on Thursday adjourned until next month after doctors ordered one of the defendants, who is pregnant, to rest.

The trial was put on hold after doctors ordered 20 days of complete rest for PR expert Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, who is six months pregnant, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi announced.

"Immacolata Chaouqui's lawyer presented the necessary medical records to the Vatican court," Lombardi stated.

The trial will resume on 6 April, the Vatican said. It re-started this week after being adjourned for over three months to allow Chaouqui and the other defendants more time to prepare their defence.

In the controversial trial, Chaouqui, who served on a Vatican economic reforms commission set up by Pope Francis, is accused of conspiring with Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda and his assistant to leak documents.

Vallejo Balda, former commission member, admitted in court on Monday to handing over files and passwords to the two reporters on trial. But he claimed he did so under duress, having been blackmailed by Chaouqui, with whom he said he had a "compromising" encounter in a Florence hotel.

Chaouqui, 33, who is married, denies she had sexual relations with 54-year-old Vallejo Balda and claimed on Facebook he told her he was gay. She denies any wrongdoing in the case.

Chaouqui implied to Vallejo Balda she had links to the Italian secret services and contacts with the mafia and powerful politicians and threatened to "destroy" him in a WhatsApp message, the cleric alleges.

The Vatican has been widely criticised for prosecuting the two investigative journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who last year published tell-all books based on the leaked Vatican documents.

Nuzzi and Fittipaldi's books detailed financial mismanagement, serious irreegularities in Vatican spending and massive greed on the part of Vatican prelates.

If convicted, all of the accused risk potential prison terms of between four and eight years, in a case that senior Vatican officials see as a public relations 'own goal'.

The officials are reportedly looking for ways to be bring the trial to a rapid end.

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