Cardinal Angelo Becciu yesterday (27 July) sat through the opening day of his financial crimes court hearing in the Vatican. He and his former secretary, Monsignor Mauro Carlino, were the only two of the ten accused to attend: the others have exercised their right to be defended in absentia.
The trial mostly revolves around the Vatican’s purchase of a building in one of London’s most expensive districts.
The prosecution accuses Becciu, who was in charge of all Vatican buildings, and other former Vatican officials or employees involved in the deal of embezzlement and abuse of office, among other charges.
He is also charged with funnelling money and contracts to companies or charitable organisations controlled by his brothers on their native island of Sardinia.
Becciu denies all charges, as does Carlino.
Among the eight who did not attend were Italian investment brokers Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione, both charged with embezzlement, fraud and money laundering. Torzi is also charged with extortion. They deny any wrongdoing.
The first day of the trial was mostly dedicated to procedural matters. Defence lawyers submitted they still had not seen all the evidence from indictments issued on 3 July and proceedings were adjourned to 5 October to allow them to digest the material.
Becciu told reporters: “The pope wanted me to go on trial. I am obedient. I am here. I am serene. I feel tranquil in my conscience.”
Pope Francis has stripped him of his privileges to enable him to be brought before the court.
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