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Journalists cleared in 'Vatileaks 2' trial

July 7, 2016

A Vatican court has cleared two Italian journalists who published leaked Church information. Two out of three Vatican officials, however, were sentenced for their roles in the confidential leak.

Journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi walks to his trial at the Vatican, in Rome
Image: Reuters/T. Gentile

Two investigative journalists at the heart of the so-called "Vatileaks 2" trial at the Vatican were acquitted Thursday.

Vatican judges ruled that they did not have the authority to examine the journalists' cases as they did not commit a crime on Vatican territory.

"Today is a historic day. This is the base of democracy, freedom of the press," Gianluigi Nuzzi told journalists outside the Vatican court house.

The journalists, Emiliano Fittipaldi (pictured above) and Nuzzi, faced up to eight years in prison for publishing two books which documented financial mismanagement and greed within the Roman Catholic Church.

Francesca Chaouqui, a PR expert accused of leaking classified documents to journalists, arrives with her son Pietro on July 4, 2016 in Vatican City
PR expert Francesca Chaouqui was given a 10 month suspended sentence for her role in the leakImage: Getty Images(AFP/A. Pizzoli

Vatican officials sentenced

Three other people were also on trial for their ties to the commission from which the leaked documents stemmed.

Spanish priest Lucio Vallejo Balda admitted to leaking secret papers and was handed an 18-month prison sentence. His assistant, who had little to do with the scandal, was also acquitted.

The Italian public relations expert Francesca Chaouqui, who has a three-week-old son, was given a 10-month suspended sentence. She is believed to have inspired the leaks.

The books are believed to be based on confidential Vatican documents from a former committee established by the pope to review Vatican financial affairs in 2013-14.

The second leaks scandal for the Vatican rocked the Roman Catholic Church with its accounts of theft, as well as the publication of recordings of Pope Francis' private conversations.

The Vatican has not denied the accuracy of the documents and transgressions within the Church, but has said the issues are old and have been resolved through Francis' reforms.

The scandal surrounding the books was dubbed "Vatileaks 2" due to its similarity to the first Vatileaks case which was triggered in 2012 by another Nuzzi publication also based on leaked Vatican documents.

Nuzzi was not tried in 2012, but the main informer Paolo Gabriele, a valet of the then Pope Benedict XVI was sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was pardoned shortly afterwards.

The scandal allegedly contributed to Benedict's decision to retire in 2013. Pope Francis, his successor, adopted a tough new law punishing the leaking of Vatican state secrets.

rs/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)