Cardinal faces prison sentence over Vatican’s London property deal
Giovanni Angelo Becciu faces the possibility of serving years in prison for his involvement in the Vatican’s loss-making real estate deal in London.
On Wednesday, Vatican prosecutor, Alessandro Diddi, called for an imprisonment of seven years and three months, accusing Mr Becciu of abuse of office and misappropriation of funds relating to the luxury property investment.
The unprecedented situation marked the first time a cardinal had been accused before a Vatican court.
The core of the trial is the purchase of a property in London’s Chelsea district.
It was purchased when Mr Becciu held a prominent position in the Secretariat of State between 2011 and 2018, making him the second-ranking official in the powerful authority.
The deal went awry as the Vatican invested more money than planned, resulting in a loss of over 100 million euros (110 million U.S. dollars). The building has since been sold.
Following the allegations, Mr Becciu lost his cardinal privileges and was disqualified from participating in a papal election or conclave.
However, he retained the title of cardinal.
Pope Francis also removed him from his position of overseeing canonisations and beatifications.
Mr Becciu maintained his innocence and said there was no evidence supporting the accusations and claiming his character had been unfairly portrayed.
Italian media quoted him on Tuesday as saying, “I am innocent and I will not get tired of repeating it.”
He stated that Mr Diddi had not presented “the slightest evidence” to support the accusations and that his character had been portrayed in an “utterly distorted manner,” leading to the tarnishing of his reputation as a “man and as a priest.”