Pierpaolo ScavuzzoPierpaolo Scavuzzo / AGF
The Vatican trial for the sale-fraud of the London building on Sloane Avenue, which caused a chasm in the accounts of the Secretariat of State, goes on. (even if it will have to be listened to by the prosecutors on two specific facts: the subornation of a witness, the bishop of Como and the funding of the secretariat of state to the SPES cooperative in Ozieri, headed by his brother). The next hearing is set for November 17.
The Vatican Tribunal, chaired by Giuseppe Pignatone, rejected the objections of nullity of the indictment advanced by the defendants’ defenses, but imposed on the Promoter of Justice to deposit all the documents and electronic media containing the evidence, including the video recordings of spontaneous depositions ( lasted three days) of the key witness: Monsignor Alberto Perlasca. Di Perlasca, head of the administrative office of the Secretariat of State, the Court also wants to know the exact legal status (having been initially investigated, and then not sent for trial). Perlasca is the Crown’s witness to this trial.
Furthermore, the Tribunal, in order to remedy the violation of Article 289 of the Vatican Code of Criminal Procedure, and to guarantee “equality of arms between prosecution and defense” – a key principle of due process – ordered the return of the procedural documents to the public prosecutor ( who had made this request yesterday) for all the charges for the financiers Raffaele Mincione, for Monsignor Mauro Carlino former secretary of Becciu, and for Fabrizio Tirabassi, former official of the Secretariat of State. In essence, these defendants will have to be re-interrogated, after being made aware of the evidence gathered against them. But as Mincione’s lawyer Giandomenico Caiazza stated, it will be necessary to see under what conditions.
In practice, the suspects (who were accused so far) do not want to have any nasty surprises: they do not want to risk a possible arrest in the Vatican, at the end of their interrogations. Partial referral of the documents to the public prosecutor also for the former director general of the AIF, Tommaso di Ruzza, and for many counts of the thirty-year money manager of the Secretariat of State Enrico Crasso.
The restitution of the documents to the prosecutor yesterday had opposed in the hearing all the lawyers of the defendants who instead asked the Court for the nullity tout court of the indictment. The Tribunal, on the other hand, accepted the request of the office of the Vatican Promoter and rejected the objections of nullity.
Naturally, the situation that has arisen raises more than a question. Three months after the indictment of a trial that must test the capacity of the Vatican judicial system to sanction financial crimes, the main protagonists of the London case at the center of international media interest and which turned on the spotlight of the Moneyval Committee of the Council of Europe, must be resent if necessary and their position reunited with that of Becciu, Cecilia Marogna and Gianluigi Torzi (whose position was removed, being deprived of liberty following the arrest warrant for money laundering by the Italian judiciary, and cannot participate in the Vatican trial due to legitimate impediment).
The decision of the Court will obviously lead to a lengthening of the times: it will go well beyond the three months hoped for in June by the Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
The question remains about the privacy reasons that led the prosecutors on August 9 to ask the Court not to hand over the Perlasca audiovisuals to the defendants’ lawyers, contrary to what was stated in the Court on July 27, as underlined by the same order today of the Court . They must be deposited by 3 November. This is the real victory of the defenses achieved today.
And we must also see the privacy of who we are talking about.