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Vatican Convicts Cardinal Angelo Becciu in Historic Financial Scandal Trial

In a historic development, Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu has been found guilty of financial crimes by a Vatican court and sentenced to five years and six months in jail. This marks the first time the highest-ranking Church official has faced a trial before a Vatican criminal court. Becciu faced charges of embezzlement in connection to a London property deal that resulted in significant losses for the Catholic Church.

Vatican Convicts Cardinal Angelo Becciu in Historic Financial Scandal Trial

A total of ten defendants, including Becciu, were accused of various crimes such as money laundering, fraud, abuse of office, and witness tampering. While all defendants denied wrongdoing, the court delivered mixed verdicts, convicting them on some counts and finding them not guilty on others. The trial, spanning two years, focused on the mismanagement of funds within the secretariat of state and the sale of a property on London’s Sloane Avenue, purchased for €350 million but with an actual value of only €210 million. The botched real estate deal resulted in a €140 million loss for the Vatican.


Becciu, who served as the pope’s chief of staff from 2011 to 2018, vehemently denied all charges. Following the verdict, his lawyer announced plans to appeal the decision, maintaining Becciu's innocence. The Cardinal had been dismissed by Pope Francis in 2020 due to the scandal.


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The trial was presided over by jury president Giuseppe Pignatone, a former anti-mafia prosecutor. The proceedings delved into the intricate details of fund management and the controversial property transaction. Italian journalist Massimiliano Coccia, credited with uncovering the scandal leading to Becciu's dismissal, described the court decision as unprecedented in Vatican history.


Becciu's legal troubles extend beyond this case, as he is also under investigation for conspiracy to commit a crime related to a social cooperative run by his brother in Sardinia. In an additional twist, intercepted messages by Italy’s anti-financial crimes police, the Guardia di Finanza, revealed Becciu claiming that Pope Francis wished him dead just days before the trial commenced.


Despite Becciu's defamation suit against journalist Massimiliano Coccia, alleging harm to his reputation and hindrance to his chances of becoming pope, an Italian civil court rejected the claim. Consequently, Becciu was required to cover Coccia’s legal costs. The outcome of the trial and the subsequent appeal will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications within the Vatican and the broader Catholic Church.

By fLEXI tEAM

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