Italian high court blames prosecutors in Vatican-related case

Italy’s Supreme Court has accused Italian prosecutors of withholding evidence in favor of key suspects in Vatican fraud and corruption trial in a parallel case in Italian court

ROME – Italy’s Supreme Court has accused prosecutors of withholding evidence in favor of the main suspect in the Vatican’s fraud and corruption trial in a parallel case in an Italian court.

The Supreme Court struck down the arrest warrant in October, but the reasons for that decision were only released on Saturday. The court agreed with Torzi’s lawyers that Italian prosecutors failed to turn over his defence evidence to the judge who originally granted the arrest warrant in March.

The Supreme Court justice wrote that when Torzie’s lawyers appealed to the review court, the appellate judge should consider whether Torzie’s missing defense material provided “decisive” weight in his favor. The review court upheld the warrant in June but did not conduct an assessment.

The Italian case comes after Vatican prosecutors have opened an investigation into Torzie’s role in the Vatican’s €350 million investment in a London residential property. Vatican prosecutors accused Torzi of trying to extort 15 million euros from the Vatican to surrender full ownership of the property. Torzie said the case was the product of a misunderstanding.

A Vatican court indicted him in July, but his status in the trial has been in limbo because of the extradition process between Italy and the UK and the legality of the Italian arrest warrant that launched them. The Vatican has no extradition treaty with the UK.

In a statement Saturday, Torzie’s attorney, Marco Franco, said the ruling appeared to allow the reviewing tribunal “to undertake a new, comprehensive assessment of the case.” Torzie, he said, wanted “prosecutors to find the truth without being deprived of their liberty.”

The Vatican case has been plagued by procedural errors by Vatican prosecutors that have resulted in the invalidation of multiple charges. Defence lawyers say the mistakes deprive their clients of rights that the Holy See insists are respected.

While Vatican prosecutors have scored some victories, other rulings outside the Vatican have raised questions about the conduct of Vatican prosecutors and the Italian prosecutors acting on their behalf. These include a ruling that invalidated the legality of the Vatican’s order to conduct a search in Italy, as well as a Vatican ruling calling for the arrest and detention of another Italian suspect.

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