Vatican City, Mar 31, 2021 / 14:01 pm
The U.K. court ruling that overturned an account seizure request by Vatican City prosecutors has raised questions about the reliability of the Holy See’s judicial system.
The verdict by judge Tony Baumgartner overturned an earlier decision seizing the British accounts of the Italian broker Gianluigi Torzi. Torzi was involved in the Secretariat of State’s luxury real estate investment in London.
Torzi was arrested by the Vatican last summer on two counts of embezzlement, two counts of fraud, extortion, and money laundering.
In his ruling, Baumgartner often used the words “misrepresentation” and “mischaracterization” in relation to the Vatican’s request for the accounts seizure (known as a “restraint application”).
In his conclusion, Baumgartner noted that “an applicant to this court for a restraint order relying on external requests should be careful in relying upon facts unverified or unsupported by direct evidence, and should not unhesitatingly rely upon assertions that are not properly established on the facts.”
He also pointed out that “applications of this nature often are brought with haste because of the fear of the real risk of dissipation of assets, but the restraint application was not an application prompted by discoveries made in a new investigation, or even in an investigation that was unfolding.”
This is the third time that Vatican prosecutors have received a negative response from authorities abroad.
The first concerned Cecilia Marogna, who allegedly misused Vatican funds intended for humanitarian activities. Marogna, an Italian citizen, ended up in prison in Italy, while Vatican prosecutors also submitted a request to extradite Marogna to the Vatican. A lower court validated the arrest. But the Supreme Court of Cassation canceled the arrest because the request had no specific motive and “lacked the specific cautionary needs.”