The Vatican has formally indicted five people for the recent leak and dissemination of private financial documents, including two former members of a Holy See commission and two journalists.
A Nov. 21 communique from the Vatican announced that the five would stand trial for the “unlawful disclosure of confidential information and documents.”
Those being charged are Spanish Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, Italian PR woman Francesca Chaouqui, Nicola Maio (Vallejo’s secretary), and journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi.
On Nov. 10 the Vatican announced it would be investigating Nuzzi and Fittipaldi for publishing the documents. At the same time the Vatican made known that others who, due to their position, could be complicit in having acquired the documents in question, were also being investigated.
Though no names were given, it now appears Maio was the one to whom the Vatican was referring.
Msgr. Vallejo and Chaouqui were arrested in relation to the leaks Nov. 2, and were believed to have passed the documents onto Nuzzi and Fittipaldi for publication.
Chaouqui was released soon after the arrest in exchange for her cooperation in the impending investigation. Both she and Msgr. Vallejo are former members of the Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA).
The commission was established by the Pope July 18, 2013, as part of his plan to reform the Vatican’s finances. It was dissolved after completing its mandate.
According to the Vatican communique, the trial will begin Nov. 24 at 10:30 a.m. in the Vatican tribunal, the day before Pope Francis leaves for Africa.
The communique stated that Msgr. Vallejo, Chaouqui and Maio worked together in forming “an organized criminal association” with the intention of “disclosing information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the (Vatican City) State.”
Nuzzi and Fittipaldi are being charged with illegally procuring and subsequently releasing the private information and documents.
Specifically, they are accused of “urging and exerting pressure,” particularly on Msgr. Vallejo, to obtain the private documents and then publish books on the content, which were released earlier this month.
The leaking of documents was officially criminalized by the Vatican in 2013, when Nuzzi published a book containing confidential information given to him by Pope Benedict XVI’s butler in what came to be known as the “Vatileaks” scandal.
All five will face criminal charges for violating Law IX of the Vatican City State, established July 13, 2013, and holds that stealing confidential documents is a crime punishable with time in prison and hefty fines.