ROME (AP) – Lawyers for defendants in a huge financial scandal at the Vatican asked the Holy See daily to publish a correction on Friday, after it published a front-page editorial defending the investigation and claiming rights were respected. of defense.
The letter, addressed to the director of the daily L’Osservatore Romano, Andrea Monda, was signed by eight defense attorneys. It was in response to the editorial published on December 20, signed by the editorial director of the Holy See, Andrea Tornielli.
The trial focuses on a 350 million euro (nearly $ 400 million) investment made by the Vatican in properties in London, although it has been expanded and now covers other alleged financial crimes. Prosecutors at the Vatican accuse Italian financiers, Vatican officials and alleged security analysts of embezzling the Holy See, mostly donations made by faithful Catholics.
Since the court cases were opened in July, lawyers for the 10 defendants have objected to a series of actions and omissions by the prosecution that they say prevent them from mounting an effective defense. They mention the refusal of the prosecution to return all the evidence and to question the suspects about all the accusations during the investigative phase of the case.
In preliminary decisions, the president of the court has basically agreed with the defense, ordering the prosecution to show all the evidence, annulling the cases against four of the defendants and essentially, forcing the prosecution to start from scratch.
In his editorial, Tornielli emphasized that the two-year investigation constitutes the largest and most complicated case ever considered by that court. The fact that it began as a result of internal controls makes it “a real test for the judicial system of the Vatican city-state,” he wrote.
Tornielli acknowledged that the 1913 penal code used at the trial has created “objective problems” and that Vatican prosecutors “have often had to grapple with complicated issues that are unprecedented” in the territory’s judicial system. But he insisted that the right to a fair trial, enshrined in a 2013 Vatican law, is guaranteed.
Defense lawyers disagreed and asked Monda to publish his version of events.
The editorial “does not correspond to the reality of the trial” and appears to be an effort to “normalize the multiple violations of process,” the attorneys wrote.
The “dimensions” of the case and the use of computerized evidence are now normal in the legal profession and “do not affect respect for the guarantees for the defense,” they added.