F Rosa Rubicondior: Catholic Fraud News - Cardinal Becciu's Defence Team Accuse Pope Francis of Breaking the Vatican Laws!

Monday 21 February 2022

Catholic Fraud News - Cardinal Becciu's Defence Team Accuse Pope Francis of Breaking the Vatican Laws!

Cardinal Angelo Becciu talking to journalists during a news conference in Rome. Defence lawyers are questioning the legitimacy of the Vatican tribunal where 10 people are on trial, including Becciu, on finance-related charges, arguing their clients can’t get a fair trial in an absolute monarchy where the pope has already intervened in the case and where prosecutors have failed to turn over key pieces of evidence.

Credit: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Cardinal Becciu laments 'humiliation' after police raids tied to Vatican financial trial

Using a form of reasoning of which any Byzantine lawyer would be proud, the defence team for Enrico Crasso, one of those charged alongside (former) Cardinal Angelo Becciu with embezzlement, have petitioned the Vatican judges hearing the case against him to rule that the trial should be stopped and all charges rescinded because Pope Francis violated the Vatican's own legal system.

Their argument is that in exercising his right, as absolute ruler and head of the Vatican City state to issue four 'resctipta' to firstly allow the case to be brought against Becciu and to give prosecutors leeway in their treatment of witnesses and the defendants, to circumvent the archaic and convoluted procedures behind which the defendants in the case were hiding, Pope Francis has violated the Vatican's Legal system, so a fair trial under that system is now impossible. In effect, so the argument goes, Pope Francis has reduced the Vatican City to a lawless state.

Readers of this blog may remember how (former) Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, number three in the Vatican as Chief of Staff of the Vatican's Secretariate of State, was summarily sacked (or in Vatican terms, 'resigned his rights as a cardinal') and accused of embezzling Vatican funds in connection with a $225 million property deal in London in 2014.

As I reported at the time:
The corruption charges relate to the use of the Vatican slush fund known as "Peter's Pence", which is the recipient of charitable donations throughout the Catholic world and which is supposed to be used by the Pope for charitable works. As former effective number 2 in the Vatican, Becciu had access to this largely unregulated account. It appears that he, like so many Vatican officials before him with access to large, unregulated slush funds, couldn't resist the temptation to plunge his grubby hands deep into the coffer.

I will defend myself in court from these accusations which I have always contested and contest still.

Giovanni Angelo Becciu
The businessman Raffaele Mincione, the owner of the London property in question - the former Harrods shop in Chelsea - is also charged with money-laundering and embezzlement, as is Gianluigi Torzi who was enlisted to help push through the deal. He is also charged with extortion. Readers may recall how last April, Torzi successfully applied to Southwark Crown Court to have a freeze on his bank accounts lifted, Judge Tony Baumgartner citing the lies and inconsistencies in statements from Vatican officials as his reason for unfreezing the account. The Vatican subsequently applied to have Torizi extradited from the UK to face charges of embezzlement.

There is no doubt that the pope’s authority as the vicar of Christ is total and indisputable, but the political order of a state, even of the Vatican state, is upheld by fundamental laws that can be modified only through procedures provided by the law. The Holy Father can change the laws and practices, but so far as these laws exist in the state’s legal system they must be respected.

[The indiscriminate use of rescripta, signed by Francis] negates the state of law and brings us back to a situation akin to the early Middle Ages.

Luigi Pannella
Enrico Crasso’s defence lawyer.
Also indicted with Becciu is Cecilia Marogna, known in the Italian press as “the cardinal’s lady”, who readers may remember, in October 2020, was arrested in Milan and charged with embezzlement. Marogna, had been employed as a 'security advisor' by Becciu, for which she was allegedly paid more than €500,000. She is also now charged with embezzling Vatican funds.

Becciu's former personal secretary, Monsignor Mauro Carlino, is also charged with extortion and abuse of office, as is another of Becciu's former assistants in the secretariate of state, Fabrizio Tirabassi who allegedly received payments and commissions from the Swiss bank, UBS. Others caught up in the scandal are René Brülhart, the former president of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, or AIF, and its former director Tommaso di Ruzza who are charged with abuse of office; Enrico Crasso, who managed Vatican finances for 27 years and now faces charges of embezzlement, corruption, extortion, money laundering, fraud, abuse of office and falsifying public documents.

Clearly the pope can write rescriptum, but he obviously can do it to create an exception to the law, but not to violate the law of the Vatican legal system.

Marco Franco
Attorney representing Gianluigi Torzi
In a shocking parallel with organised crime, the person heading up the Vatican tribunal investigating this scandal is Giuseppe Pignatone, recruited by Pope Francis specifically because of his record as a prosecutor in Rome noted for his anti-Mafiosi activities.
So far, Becciu has admitted only to 'borrowing' $113,000 from the Vatican Bank to give to his brother in Sicily, but claims he paid it back in full - which begs the question of why did he 'borrowed' it in the first place and didn't just give his brother money from his own resources?

The Vatican judges have adjourned the trial and hope to rule on the application on March 1st.

Watch this space. This one will run and run!

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