Vatican Braces for Fresh Controversy in New Trial

Vatican Braces for Fresh Controversy in New Trial

A controversial Vatican trial of journalists and alleged whistleblowers resumed on Monday, in the latest installment of an image-bruising legal saga.
The spicy courtroom drama has already served up claims of sexually charged scheming, blackmail and computer hacking behind the fortified walls of the secretive city state, AFP reported.
From Monday, lawyers on both sides of a case increasingly seen as a public relations own goal will be able to put some of Pope Francis’s closest aides on the stand.
The trial has been adjourned for three months to enable computer experts to recover deleted email, text and WhatsApp messages between some of the accused, one of whom is basing her defense on a claim that she was working on the pope’s behalf.
Francesca Chaouqui, a pregnant former PR adviser to the Vatican, is one of five people accused of leaking classified documents that revealed out-of-control spending at the top of the Catholic Church and some top clerics’ love of luxury.
She has been granted the right to call as witnesses Vatican number two Cardinal Pietro Parolin and two Francis confidantes, charity supremo Archbishop Konrad Krajewski and Cardinal Santo Abril y Castello, who heads a panel overseeing the scandal-hit Vatican bank.
Chaouqui is accused of conspiring with Spanish priest Lucio Vallejo Balda and his assistant Nicola Maio to leak secret documents they had access to as members of a commission appointed by Francis to spearhead a financial cleanup shortly after his election in 2013.
The two journalists on trial, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, have published books based on the documents at the heart of the trial.
All five accused have been prosecuted under draconian anti-leaks legislation, which could see them receive prison terms of between four and eight years.
The Vatican has been criticized by press freedom groups for pursuing the prosecution of the two journalists who say they were only doing their jobs by revealing problems that believers and the broader public have a right to know about.
With the potential for further embarrassment, some Vatican experts are anticipating a move to bring the trial to a speedy end on procedural grounds.
The books published by Nuzzi and Fittipaldi depict the Vatican bureaucracy that Francis inherited three years ago as being on the verge of implosion thanks to chronic over-spending, feeble accounting systems and serious irregularities in several departments that may have masked corruption.


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