Vatican court jails ex-diplomat Italian priest Carlo Alberto Capella for child porn | News | DW | 23.06.2018
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Vatican court jails ex-diplomat Italian priest Carlo Alberto Capella for child porn

Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella is the first person to be criminally convicted by the Vatican for child porn. The ex-diplomat, also wanted in the US and Canada, was convicted of downloading and distributing material.

Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella, left speaks with his lawyer Roberto Borgogno.

Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella, left, speaks with his lawyer Roberto Borgogno

A Vatican court sentenced Carlo Alberto Capella to five years in prison for the possession and distribution of child pornography on Saturday.

The 51-year-old priest admitted to viewing images of under-aged teenagers engaging in sexual acts during a period of "fragility" and internal crisis while serving as a diplomat for the Holy See in the United States and in Canada.

He apologized to his family and the Vatican. He described the episode as little more than a "bump in the road" on his priestly vocation and appealed for leniency, explaining that he loved the priesthood and wanted to continue.

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"It was never part of my priestly life before," he told the court.

The two-day trial ended with Tribunal President Giuseppe Dalla Torre reading out the verdict, which also included a €5,000 ($5,830) fine.

Prosecutor Gian Piero Milano pushed for a harsher penalty against Capella — who could have been fined €50,000 — pointing to the "great" volume of material accessed. He said police had found 40 pornographic photos and videos on the priest's mobile phone.

Capella continued to view the material even after being recalled from the US by the Vatican in August 2017 after the US State Department informed the Holy See he was suspected of a "possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images." Both the US and Canada have sought to prosecute Capella, but the Vatican has refused to hand him over.

Enforcement of 2013 law

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Canadian police issued a warrant for Capella's arrest, accusing him of having accessed, possessed and distributed child porn from a church in Windsor, Ontario over Christmas 2016. He allegedly distributed the material via a social networking site.

Capella is a canon lawyer, and is listed online as having written a 2003 paper for the Pontifical Lateran University on priestly celibacy and the church's criminal code.

His trial was the first known enforcement of a 2013 law for the Vatican City State that specifically criminalized possession and distribution of child pornography, and made it punishable with a prison sentence and a fine.

Now that his criminal trial is over, Capella will be subject to a canonical hearing, which could lead to him being defrocked.

bik/jm (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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