The certificate had been waiting for more than seven months. Cardinal Angelo Piccio presented his version of the facts, Thursday, May 5, before the Vatican Court, in the face of accusations of embezzlement and financial mismanagement. A defense expressed in a long statement, read for two and a half hours before the judges, gathered in a room in the Vatican Museums that has been used by the court of the world’s smallest country since the trial began, in July 2021.
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The former Deputy Secretary of State, who in this capacity was responsible for part of the investments of the Holy See between 2011 and 2018, defended himself against the two main charges: embezzlement of 125,000 euros in favor of his brothers, as well as any liability for an investment of 100 million euros in a real estate investment that was later proven to be disastrous, causing a loss of at least 176 million euros to the Holy See.
“I can say, with a clear conscience, that in seven long years of service I have spent myself unreservedly upon the Holy Father and the Churchdefeated the first cardinal in history to be tried before a court in the Vatican. Conscious of my commitment and dedication, I am satisfied with the many results obtained for the good of the Church and deeply saddened by the groundless accusations against which I am called to my defence. »
“I wonder how I could have acted differently”
During his lengthy defence, at the start of the nearly six-hour court session, the Pope deprived the cardinal of his essential powers in September 2020, claiming privately that he “full legality” To manage the funds of the State Secretariat and operate any investment.
One way to answer the accusations is that the Bishop of Sardinia made the mistake of not consulting the APSA (Holy See’s Heritage Department), manager of the Holy See’s estate trusts, before giving him permission to invest in the London building. In his speech, he considered that the state secretaries then had great autonomy to manage their finances.
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More broadly, he asserts that the €100 million investment in London, through a fund called “Athena”, has been validated by all the experts consulted. Including those who later found out that they got comfortable commissions. “I still wonder today how I could have acted differently given the information I was given at the time,” The Cardinal continued, arguing with him ‘Absolute goodwill’.
Former member of Italian intelligence
In fact, the former deputy placed the responsibility for making the decision on Bishop Alberto Perlasca, who at the time was a collaborator with the State Secretariat, but has since provided the testimony on which the majority of the accusations are based. “Because of the technical expertise and the confidence which I have placed in Monsignor Perlaska and in the office (which he heads) as a whole, I have never, during my tenure, taken a decision in matters of financial investments which are not in keeping with what was offered to me.”, Cardinal Becciu defended. He gave an unflattering description of his former subordinate: “You could say that the administrative office was almost his own little kingdom, of which he felt he was the head.”
The cardinal described his relationship with the latter, first confirming that great trust had been established between them, and then confirming that he himself supported Bishop Berlaska a lot in 2019, after the latter was excluded from the state secretariat. An evacuation, after which Bishop Perlaska wrote to the Cardinal via SMS, wanting to commit suicide.
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But Angelo Piccio also mentions in his story a character he might have met in 2020, who, at that time, presented herself as a friend of Bishop Perlaska and Former Italian intelligence. After this contact, she will follow these appointments between this woman, Genoveffa Ciferri Putignani, and the Cardinal, during which she will threaten, according to Angelo Becci, to deprive him of the Cardinal. “I know I know journalists in Italy and England who can destroy you or praise you depending on your commitment to Berluska,” This woman, whose name had never appeared before, was going to tell him.
The trial must last several months, and the court has set a timetable that runs until July. The next session will be on May 18.