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Vatican prosecutor seeks seven-year sentence for cardinal

Vatican prosecutor seeks seven-year sentence for cardinal
Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu (C) attends a Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, 30 August 2022. Some 190 Cardinals from across the globe took part in a two-day encounter in the Vatican. The assembly will dissolve on 30 August evening after the celebration of Holy Mass presided over by the pontiff. EPA-EFE/FABIO FRUSTACI

The prosecutor at a Vatican corruption trial linked to a botched London real estate deal asked a court on Wednesday to convict Cardinal Angelo Becciu and sentence the former Holy See power broker to seven years and three months in jail.

Before he was fired by Pope Francis over another issue, Becciu was one of the most powerful men in the Vatican. He was deputy secretary of state from 2011-2018 and then head of the Vatican department that studies potential candidates for sainthood from 2018 to his dismissal in 2020.

Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi made the sentencing request at the end of his summing up at the trial, which began two years ago and where 75-year-old Becciu, the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever face a trial, is one of 10 defendants.

Diddi asked the court for guilty verdicts for all of the defendants, all of whom have denied any wrongdoing. He also requested the confiscation of millions of euros of assets.

The trial revolves mostly around the complicated purchase of a luxury building in London by the Secretariat of State.

The Vatican sold the building last year, taking an estimated loss of about 140 million euros.

The others on trial include several Vatican employees and two outside brokers who the Vatican has accused of extortion.

The pope fired Becciu from another senior clerical post in 2020 for alleged nepotism. That accusation has often surfaced at the trial and Becciu denied that as well.

In a statement released before the prosecution made its requests, Becciu said he was “pained” by the way Diddi had painted him as a sinister character.

“I have always worked for the good of the Church and I have spent my whole life for her,” Becciu said. “I am innocent not only because not only have I never stolen a cent, nor have I enriched myself or members of my family.”

The court’s decision is expected at the end of the year after a summer break and more hearings involving those seeking damages, such as the Vatican bank.

CONFISCATION REQUEST

The sentencing request for Becciu was a sum of individual terms for alleged crimes including embezzlement, abuse of office and inducing a person to give false testimony.

Diddi also asked the court to confiscate 14 million euros of Becciu’s assets, impede him from holding office for life and fine him more than 10,000 euros.

Diddi asked for a sentence of more than 11 years for one of the brokers, Raffaele Mincione, and more than nine years for the other, Gianluigi Torzi. He asked the court to confiscate 172 million euros of Mincione’s assets and 71 million euros of Torzi’s.

He asked for nearly four years for Rene Bruelhart, the former Swiss head of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence unit, and more than four years for its former director, Tommaso Di Ruzza.

A sentence of nearly five years was requested for Cecilia Marogna, a self-styled security analyst who was charged with embezzling funds destined to free a Columbian nun who was kidnapped in Mali by an al Qaeda-linked group.

At the time of Becciu’s firing, he was also stripped of what the Vatican then said were his “rights associated with being a cardinal”.

This included the right to enter a secret conclave to elect the next pope after Francis’s death or resignation.

 

(Reporting by Phil Pullella and Alvise Armellini;Editing by Andrew Heavens, Toby Chopra and Alison Williams)

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