Who is Cardinal Becciu and what crimes was he convicted of in the Vatican’s “Trial of the Century”?

Who is Cardinal Becciu and what crimes was he convicted of in the Vatican’s “Trial of the Century”?

(CNN in Spanish) — Giovanni Angelo Becchio is The first cardinal was found guilty and sentenced by the court From the Vatican: After a long career in the Holy See, the 75-year-old priest was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for his participation in various financial crimes, a sentence he has already announced he will appeal.

Who is Giovanni Angelo Becchio?

Giovanni Angelo Becchio, 75 years old, was born on June 2, 1948 in Battada, a town in Sardinia, According to the Vatican press service.

He was ordained a young priest in 1972. Just over a decade later, in 1984, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See. He served in the papal legations in the Central African Republic, Sudan, New Zealand, Liberia, Great Britain, France, and the United States.

Later, under the appointment of then Pope John Paul II, he became apostolic nuncio to Angola, then to Sao Tome and Principe and finally to Cuba, between 2009 and 2011.

That year he was appointed to one of the most important positions in the Vatican, that of “sostituto” (substitute) in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, equivalent to the papal chief of staff. In this position, the bishop had the privileges of seeing the Pope when needed.

Pope Francis appointed him a cardinal in 2018, the year he also began serving as head of the office that oversees canonizations.

Before the trial began, which lasted more than two years and ended with his conviction in 2020 Pope Becciu was expelled from his position as head of the Vatican’s canonization department and revoked his right to vote in a future conclave (a right he had by virtue of his title and age, as all cardinals under the age of 80 can vote in the conclave that determines the new council) when he becomes the leader of the Holy See vacant).

Italian Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becchio (right) in a photo taken at the Vatican on August 27, 2022. (Credit: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

What crimes have I been convicted of?

At the heart of the so-called “Trial of the Century” was the Vatican’s purchase of a huge property in the Chelsea neighborhood in southwest London. The plan was to renovate the property and turn it into apartments.

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The Holy See spent about US$400 million on the operation over several years, but ended up with a loss of US$150 million after the assets were finally sold. Vatican prosecutors said the church was defrauded of millions by paying large sums for the property, while a series of middlemen earned huge sums thanks to the negligence of those responsible for the deal.

In judgment, The Catholic news agency ACI Prensa reportedThe lower court said that between 2013 and 2014, a total of $200.5 million was used illicitly “at the request” of Becciu, a figure that “represents approximately one-third of the State Department’s time assets.”

Becciu, who was convicted of embezzling funds from the Holy See, was found guilty of two other maneuvers.

On the one hand, he was sentenced because he gave 570,000 euros (about 623,000 US dollars) to Cecilia Maronia, who was presented as a security consultant, “under the pretext inconsistent with the truth” that it would be used to free a nun. Kidnapped in Mali.

(Marogna, who during these years earned the nickname “Madame Cardinal” for her relationship with the priest, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison after being found guilty of embezzling hundreds of thousands of euros that Becciu had authorized.)

On the other hand, the court also sentenced him for transferring 125 thousand euros (about 137 thousand US dollars) to Ozeri’s Caritas organization, arguing that although the final destination of the funds was legal, “the Foreign Minister’s disbursement of funds constituted and in this case the use Its unlawful conduct constitutes the crime of embezzlement.”

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Becciu has always denied the charges against him, and after the verdict was pronounced, his lawyer confirmed his innocence and said that the cardinal would appeal the ruling.

With reports from CNN’s Christopher Lamb.

Aygen Marsh

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