Holy See press office

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Hearing Held in Those Accused in Vatileaks Case

Clarified that Vatican City State has jurisdiction

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The Holy See Press Office today issued the following communique regarding the hearing that was held this morning in the trial of those charged with leaking and misusing confidential information.

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“This morning at 9.30, in the Vatican City State Tribunal, a further hearing was held in the criminal trial for the dissemination of confidential news and documents.

The defendants were all present, accompanied by their respective lawyers (all five of whom are currently recognised as ‘private’ lawyers: E. Bellardini for Msgr. L.A. Vallejo Balda, L. Sgrò for F. I. Chaouqui, R.C. Baffioni for N. Maio, L. Musso for E. Fittipaldi and R. Palombi for G. Nuzzi).

The College of judges (President Prof. Giuseppe Dalla Torre, and the members Prof. Piero Antonio Bonnet, Prof. Paolo Papanti-Pellettier and Prof. Venerando Marano) heard the oral presentation from the defence, along with the objections and demands already submitted in writing prior to the established deadline (Saturday 5 December).

With regard to each objection and demand submitted, the opinion of the Promoter of Justice represented by Prof. Milano and Prof. Zannotti was heard. The College therefore retired to the Counsel Chamber shortly before 10.30 for around one hour. Finally, it communicated its decisions, providing the proper detailed motivations. The hearing concluded before midday.

The objection presented by Chaouqui’s defence regarded the presumed lack of jurisdiction of the Tribunal given that the events took place in Italy and were carried out by a person declared a ‘political refugee’ in Italy. The objection was rejected, and the College clarified that the current law attributes without doubt the jurisdiction of the Vatican City State Tribunal, and observed that Chaouqui, by appearing before the investigators and the Tribunal, had in practice recognised such jurisdiction.

The demand presented by the Msgr. Vallejo Balda’s counsel for the defence for a psychological evaluation of the defendant was rejected. The Promoter of Justice explained that the Vatican legal system admits requests for a ‘psychiatric evaluation’ but not for a ‘psychological evaluation’, and that aspects of the personality and behaviour of the defendant can emerge adequately during the proceedings.

Practically all the other demands were admitted, in particular:

–       A technical evaluation requested by Chaouqui’s counsel for the defence regarding the documentation available via PC and telephones, to be carried out by an expert designated by the Tribunal accompanied by an expert selected by the defence. The Promoter of Justice approved this request.

–       The acquisition of various further elements of documentation and evidence required by various counsels for the defence (texts of email messages referenced in the investigation, text messages, articles published in various newspapers, and a ‘psychiatric evaluation’ of Msgr. Vallejo Balda previously carried out and conserved in his home). The Promoter of Justice was in favour of all the above.

–       The College considered it suitable to admit the requests for further witnesses, presented by various counsels for the defence and for different reasons (including clergy such as Cardinals Santos Abril and Parolin, Archbishop Krajewski and Msgr. Abbondi, and figures from the worlds of journalism and communications, such as Mario Benotti, Paolo Mieli, Paolo Mondani, Paola Brazzale and Marco Bernardi), although the Promoter of Justice had expressed a contrary opinion in some cases”.

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