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Vatican court hears cardinal’s secretly taped phone call with pope

A court at a Vatican corruption trial on Thursday heard a secretly recorded telephone call between the main defendant, embattled Cardinal Angelo
Becciu, and Pope Francis.

November 25, 2022
By Philip Pullella
25 November 2022

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, Nov 24 (Reuters) – A court at a Vatican
corruption trial on Thursday heard a secretly recorded telephone
call between the main defendant, embattled Cardinal Angelo
Becciu, and Pope Francis.

The recording was made without the pope’s knowledge by
someone in a room with Becciu in July 2021, shortly before the
trial began and while the pope was still recovering from major
intestinal surgery, the court was told.

Reporters were asked to leave the room while the tape was
played but lawyers who heard it said Becciu asked the pope to
confirm that the pontiff had authorised a payment to help
release a nun who had been kidnapped in Africa.

The lawyers said that on the call pope seemed perplexed and
confused by why Becciu was calling and that the pontiff
repeatedly asked the cardinal to send him a written note about
what he wanted.

In 2018, Becciu, then the third most powerful person in the
Vatican, hired co-defendant Cecilia Marogna, a self-styled
security analyst, to free a Columbian nun who was kidnapped in
Mali by an al Qaeda-linked group.

Marogna, 44, received 575,000 euros ($598,630) from the
Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s most important department,
in 2018 to 2019 when Becciu was working there. The money was
sent to a company she had set up in Slovenia and she received
some in cash, the court has been told.

The police discovered Marogna had spent much of the money
for personal use, including luxury brand clothing and visits to
health spas.

She is charged with embezzlement and Becciu is changed with
embezzlement, corruption, and abuse of office. They, like the
other eight defendants, have denied all wrongdoing.

The chief prosecutor at the trial, Alessandro Diddi, told
reporters on Thursday that he had begun a new tangent of his
investigation in which he suspects Becciu of criminal
conspiracy. He said he deposited the details with the court.

Becciu’s lawyers said in a statement they were not aware of
any new accusations. The statement did not comment on the
secretly recorded phone call.

A year before the trial started, Francis fired Becciu on
suspicion of nepotism. Becciu denies doing anything to help his
family financially.

On Thursday Becciu faced his main accuser, his former top
aide Monsignor Alberto Perlasca. He told the court how he was
ordered to make payments he considered unusual.

He said he sent 100,000 euros to a charity in Sardinia, not
knowing at the time that it was linked to Becciu’s family.

Becciu has said the charity helped create jobs in a poor
area.

The trial revolves around the purchase of a building in
London by the Secretariat of State. The 10 defendants include
former Vatican employees and Italian middle men who the
prosecution says extorted the Vatican.
($1 = 0.9605 euro)
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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