Catholic World News

Prosecutors ask for four convictions, one acquittal in 'Vatileaks' trial

July 05, 2016

Prosecutors wrapped up their case in the "Vatileaks II" trial on July 4, asking a Vatican tribunal to find four defendants guilty, and recommending prison sentences of up to 45 months.

The prosecutors sought convictions for three former Vatican officials:

  • Francesco Chaoqui, the flamboyant publicist, who was described as the "instigator" of the campaign to leak confidential Vatican documents. Because of her leading role, the prosecution suggested a prison sentence of three years and nine months.
  • Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, the former secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, who has admitted to leaking documents. For him the recommended sentence was three years and one month. 
  • Nicola Maio, a former assistant to Msgr. Vallejo Balda, for whom-- "considering his limited role"-- the prosecuttion suggested a sentence of one year and nine months.

The prosecution also sought a conviction and one-year prison sentence for Gianluigi Nuzzi, one of the two Italian journalists who published books based on the leaked documents. For the other journalist, Emiliano Fittipaldi, the prosecution recommended acquittal because of insufficient evidence to establish his involvement in the theft of documents. The two journalists had not been prosecuted for disclosing the confidential documents, but for alleged conspiracy to steal them.

The prosecution suggested that the tribunal might hand down a suspended sentence to Nuzzi. Since both he and Fittipaldi are Italian citizens, not directly subject to Vatican law, it is unclear whether a prison sentence could be enforced. The same would apply to Chaouqui, but she has vowed that she will surrender to serve any prison sentence imposed by the Vatican.

Chaouqui said that the prosecutors' recommendations were "shameful" and "surreal." She has insisted that she was not involved in the leaks. But Msgr. Vallejo Balda claimed that Chaouqui manipulated and pressured him to make the confidential documents available, and the prosecutor's summary depicts her as the central organizer of the conspiracy. 

Defense attorneys began their final statements on Tuesday, July 5, with Chaouqui's lawyer asking for a full acquittal. The defense is expected to conclude its case on July 6. 

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