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Italy’s High Court reprimands prosecutors in Vatican-related case

Italy’s Supreme Court has criticized Italian prosecutors for withholding evidence for the benefit of the main suspect in the trial for fraud and embezzlement of Vatican funds in a parallel case before Italian courts

ROME — Italy’s Supreme Court has criticized prosecutors for withholding evidence for the benefit of the main suspect in the trial for fraud and embezzlement of Vatican funds in a parallel case in Italian courts.

The cassation canceled the mandate in October but the reasons for the decision were not made public until Saturday. The court agreed with Torzi’s lawyers that Italian prosecutors failed to turn over evidence for his defense to the judge who originally authorized the arrest warrant in March.

When Torzi’s lawyers appealed the warrant to the review court, the appeals judges should have considered whether Torzi’s missing defense documents carried “decisive” weight in his favor, the cassation judges wrote. The review court upheld the arrest warrant in June without making that assessment.

The case in Italy was launched after Vatican prosecutors previously investigated Torzi for his role in the Vatican’s failed €350 million investment in residential property in London. Vatican prosecutors have accused Torzi of trying to extort 15 million euros from the Vatican to cede full ownership of the property. Torzi says the case is the result of misunderstandings.

The Vatican court indicted him in July, but his status in the trial is up in the air due to extradition proceedings between Italy and Britain and the legitimacy of the Italian arrest warrant that issued them. launched. The Vatican does not have an extradition treaty with Britain.

In a statement Saturday, Torzi’s attorney, Marco Franco, said the decision appears to give the Review Tribunal the space “to make a complete new assessment” of the case. He said Torzi hoped for a “calmer attitude from prosecutors toward seeking the truth without being deprived of his liberty.”

The Vatican case was plagued by procedural errors made by Vatican prosecutors, which resulted in several of the charges being dismissed. Defense attorneys say mistakes deprived their clients of their rights; the Holy See insists that these rights are respected.

While Vatican prosecutors have had some victories, there have been other decisions outside the Vatican that have criticized both the conduct of Vatican prosecutors and Italian prosecutors acting on their behalf. They include decisions that overturned the legitimacy of Vatican-ordered searches in Italy and the Vatican-requested arrest and detention of another Italian suspect.

In addition, a British court ruled last year that Vatican prosecutors made “appalling” misrepresentations and omissions in their request to seize Torzi’s assets, and ordered the money returned.

ABC News

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