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Secret recording of Pope Francis played at fraud tribunal

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Vatican City –

The Vatican is reviewing a financial fraud case on Thursday when a secret recording of Pope Francis for the Papal payment to free a nun held hostage by al-Qaeda-linked militants was leaked to court. The court heard from a rare eyewitness.

The broadcast of the Pope’s own voice in court has already seen many twists and turns as Vatican judges try to decide who should be held criminally responsible for the loss of tens of millions of euros in papal property. marked a surreal new chapter in the trial. .

Vatican prosecutors on Thursday turned records into evidence they said were part of a large body of material recently obtained from the Italian financial police investigating a Sardinian charity linked to Cardinal Francisco Betchuu. rice field. at the Vatican Trial.

Vatican prosecutors have revealed that evidence from Sardinia has been added to a new Vatican investigation.Bechuu is being investigated for criminal conspiracy charges.

According to prosecutor Angelo Didi, Betsch and family members surreptitiously recorded Francis when Betsch spoke to him on the phone from his Vatican apartment on July 24, 2021, three days before the Vatican trial began. Did. While most of the defendants face charges related to the Vatican’s €350 million investment in London real estate, Betchuu faces charges related to a deal with a Sardinian charity and with a self-proclaimed security guard. and is on trial for abuse of power and embezzlement. Analyst Cecilia Malagna, also on trial.

In the recording, Betsch tells Francis that the Pope has basically authorized payments to a British company identified by Maragna to negotiate the freedom of a Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali in 2017. Francis had just been released from a 10-day hospital stay, was familiar with the case, and agreed in principle, according to several attorneys who heard the recording. He ordered the journalist to leave the courtroom while the recording was being played, as it was not admitted as evidence.

Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez was abducted by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali in February 2017. While she was in captivity, the group regularly showed Narvaez on video and called for help from the Vatican.

Becciu said in court on May 5 that he had raised her plight with Francis and offered the pope up to 1 million euros to hire the British company Inkerman Group to find the nun and secure her freedom. agreed to spend She was finally released last year and met with the Pope.

The record threw Becciu in a dubious light about secretly recording the Pope, but it was by Becciu and other defendants that Francis was actually familiar with some of the expenditures at issue in the trial. , in some cases substantiated the allegations of approval. There is no provision in Vatican law for the Pope to be questioned during criminal trials, but defense attorneys say they want to ask him what he knows about various financial decisions, and that the recordings were made by the Pope. reinforced their claim that the testimony of the Pope was that of the Pope. important for the exam.

Prosecutors have accused Italian brokers and Vatican officials of numerous financial crimes, including fraud, embezzlement, corruption and abuse of power. In the London lawsuit, they accuse the defendant of defrauding the Vatican and then extorting his €15 million from the Vatican to gain control of the property. All 10 defendants deny any wrongdoing.

After rumors of a new criminal conspiracy investigation circulated, Betchu’s attorney said late Thursday that he was unaware of such an investigation against the cardinal, but clarified his position that “he is adamant about his innocence.” said he was ready to

A Vatican court heard for the first time this week that the Vatican lost more than 100 million euros in real estate deals alone. .

The Vatican official most closely tied to the deal, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, stood up for the first time on Thursday with some of the most eagerly anticipated testimony, quickly blaming his lieutenant for the fiasco. Perlasca was initially a key suspect in the investigation, but changed the story in August 2020 and is now considered a casualty in the incident.

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