By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Vatican trial against two Italian
journalists, a Spanish monsignor and two others was postponed for one week
after the court allowed one of the defendants to change lawyers.
On what was to be the criminal trial’s first day of
testimonies by the defendants Nov. 30, the Vatican court granted a request by
one of the accused to have a new lawyer and receive more time to prepare for
The proceedings began with the presiding judge, Giuseppe
Dalla Torre, stating the request by Francesca Chaouqui, a member of the former
Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the
Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See.
Dalla Torre, along with three other Vatican judges,
deliberated for 10 minutes before granting her request and announcing the trial
would resume Dec. 7.
Along with Chaouqui, the defendants present were: Spanish
Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic
Affairs of the Holy See; Nicola Maio, who served as personal assistant to Msgr.
Vallejo Balda when he worked on the commission; and the journalists, Gianluigi
Nuzzi, author of “Merchants in the Temple,” and Emiliano Fittipaldi,
author of “Avarice.”
All five defendants had been given Vatican court-appointed attorneys
in the run-up to the trial. Msgr. Vallejo Balda and Nuzzi had requested the
Vatican’s appellate court to allow them to be represented by their own lawyers.
However, Nuzzi tweeted Nov. 24 that the appellate court denied his request.
Msgr. Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui and Maio are accused of forming
an “organized criminal association” with the aim of “committing
several illegal acts of divulging news and documents concerning fundamental
interests of the Holy See and (Vatican City) State.”
Under the Vatican criminal code, it is a crime to take,
distribute and publish confidential documents.
Fittipaldi and Nuzzi are accused of “soliciting and exercising
pressure, especially on (Msgr.) Vallejo Balda, in order to obtain confidential
documents and news,” which they then used for their books. The books went
on sale in early November.
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