Hitherto animated, the room suddenly fell into silence: the first cardinal to be summoned to appear before the Vatican criminal justice system, Cardinal Angelo Becciu had just entered the courtroom. With a wave of his hand, the Sardinian cardinal greets the journalists, many of whom have come to know him personally. But after a fleeting half-smile, his expression is closed as he returns to his place, between his lawyers. This Tuesday, July 27, in a room of the Vatican Museums, the first hearing was held in the context of the trial of the sprawling case of the London building.
→ PORTRAIT. Angelo Becciu, the fall of a cardinal
Besides the former prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, only one other of the accused appeared in the courtroom: Mgr Mauro Carlino, secretary of Cardinal Becciu, when he was substitute for the Secretariat. of state. The others apparently did not consider it necessary to respond to the summons. One of them, the financial intermediary Gianluigi Torzi, however, has a good reason, point out his lawyers: he is under house arrest in the United Kingdom, following an arrest warrant issued by Italy. Only present, Cardinal Becciu and Bishop Carlino are moreover the only ecclesiastical blames. Between the two, the bonds of affection are visible and they greet each other warmly at the first interruption.
Consensus among defense lawyers
Open a little after 9:30 a.m., this first day of the trial was dedicated to listening by the court to the numerous procedural points raised by the defense. “Even today, we are missing a certain amount of documents”, denounces the lawyer of Enrico Crasso, who managed the investments of the Secretariat of State. According to him, the office of the promoter of justice – that is to say the prosecution – would not have communicated to the defense some of the documents obtained during the searches and referral. One after another, the defense lawyers take the floor. All agree on this absence of document. Conclusion: “It seems that there is a consensus among all the accused to request a referral”, pleads one of the defenders of Mgr Carlino.
→ READ. The London building case, an extraordinary trial for the Vatican
In addition to this request for referral, there are successive requests for invalidity, access to the recordings of the interrogations or even questioning of some of the methods of the investigation. Notably because, due to the “Complexity” of the case, Pope Francis authorized the office of the promoter of justice to “Derogate from the provisions in force” during instruction, if necessary. The defense lawyers are in their role in criticizing this authorization, but the prosecution and the lawyers of the civil parties do well to recall that in the Vatican, the Pope is the source of all power – judicial, executive, and legislative – and that its authorization cannot therefore be ruled out.
In the air-conditioned room, the hearing continues. After long hours of listening to each other, the president seems to be impatient and refuses that some express themselves again. It is time for the court to step aside and deliberate. “At least half an hour”, announces the president. Ultimately, the interruption will last almost an hour and a quarter. Debiting the decision at full speed, the president gives the right to defense and orders the promoter of justice to make the missing documents available. In the meantime, the trial is suspended and postponed until October 5.
Complaints of Cardinal Becciu
The audience is suspended, Cardinal Becciu seems to relax. “This the faremo” (we are going to do it, in Italian), he assures us as journalists turn to him. “I am serene, I have a clear conscience.I am confident that the judges will be able to see the facts correctly and my great hope and certainty is that they will recognize my innocence. ” And why did he bother to come to this first audience, in the stifling Roman heat of July? “The Pope has entrusted me with several missions in my life, he wanted me to come to the trial, so I come to the trial. “
By the way, the former deputy of the Secretary of State took the opportunity to announce “With great displeasure and pain” that he lodged a defamation complaint against two people: Bishop Alberto Perlasca, a former close collaborator and main source of the accusation, and against Francesca Chaouqui, key figure in a case of leaked documents from the Holy See, in the first years of the present pontificate. A statement from the cardinal confirms these complaints, due to the “Very serious and totally false statements made during the investigation to the promoter of justice, of which he became aware only a few days ago”. For Cardinal Becciu, the judicial aspect of the case has only just begun.