After a two-year investigation in the Vatican State, the trial of ten people began on Tuesday, one of them powerful former Cardinal Angelo Picchio, accused, among other things, of fraud, embezzlement and corruption.
Picchio, 73, and his former secretary, Monsignor Mauro Carlino, were the only defendants present in court. Bessio said he was present because Pope Francis asked him to.
But it will be some time before the next day of the trial. The court was adjourned after eight hours and the defense had until 5 October to further prepare his case.
The right hand of the Pope
Picchio is accused of embezzlement, abuse of power and witness influence, but also hundreds of thousands of euros of church money going to his brother’s charitable project. The indictment relates, among other things, to a luxury property of 17,000 square metres, purchased by the Church in the Chelsea Precinct of London, which was said to have been paid with charitable funds.
Angelo Besio himself says that he is innocent and claims to have been the victim of a conspiracy. He is described as the former right-hand man of Pope Francis, but was expelled in September and stripped of his cardinal title. In addition to the cardinal, the accused included church employees and financiers in London.
According to prosecutors, the case involves questionable and risky investments with large amounts of Vatican money. The 487-page indictment contains information about large bank transfers, text messages found in confiscated cell phones, bags with money from non-owners, and secret meetings at luxury hotels.
According to the prosecution, some of the defendants are “operators of a corrupt, greedy and profitable regime.”
Since taking office in 2013, Pope Francis has promised to clean up the Church’s finances.
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