The trial for the irregular use of funds from the Secretary of State, better known as the London Building Trial, began on Monday, July 27, in a courtroom set up on the premises of the Vatican Museums.
Above all, the first hearing gave the defense lawyers of the ten defendants the opportunity to make their preliminary motions. The hearing was presided over by Judge Giuseppe Pignatone. It lasted seven hours. Around thirty lawyers, journalists, and gendarmes crowded into this makeshift courtroom.
In contrast, only three out of ten defendants had made the trip: Msgr. Mauro Carlino, and Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciù, former Deputy Secretary of State, accused of embezzlement, abuse of power, and also bribery.
Becciù stated that he was “confident that the judges will be able to see the facts, and my great hope is that they will acknowledge my innocence.”
Cecilia Marogna's lawyer filed a request for deferral on the grounds that the Department of Security Information (DIS) - which reports to the presidency of the Council in Italy - had ordered an investigation on the basis of a complaint that she had filed to be released from secrecy.
Gianluigi Torzi’s lawyer, asked for a postponement because of his client’s “legitimate impediment” to attending the hearing. The latter is on probation, under electronic wristband since April 28, 2021 and “cannot move from London.”
Enrico Crasso’s lawyer made a number of exceptions and objections. He also complained about the absence of “many acts” and also the fact that the accused were not guaranteed the time to prepare their defense.
All the lawyers joined forces to request that the indictment be declared null and void, due to changes in the procedure made by the Pope's writings. According to them, a rescript is an “administrative act” and “the question is whether an administrative act may derogate from the legislation in force.”
Three other papal inscriptions have introduced criminal proceedings “unique to these proceedings,” making the Vatican a “special tribunal.”
Finally, other procedural anomalies were pointed out: lack of recordings of certain interrogatories, the absence of a lawyer during a voluntary appearance, suspicious arrest warrant.
The lawyer for the civil action of the Secretary of State, stressed that “the pope is the legislator.” For his part, Vatican Justice Promoter Gian Piero Milano returned to the question of papal modification, which he explained is an act expressing the “supreme power” of the pope.
The president of the court then lifted the Vatican’s arrest warrant against Raffaele Mincione and reserved his position on all exceptions and requests from lawyers.
He finally decided that all those absent from this first hearing, with the exception of broker Gianluigi Torzi, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, and former Secretary Mauro Carlino, should be tried in absentia.
The trial has been postponed to October 5.