Italian 'security consultant' freed from jail until Vatican extradition request decided

The Palace of Justice in Milan Italy Credit Paolobon140 CC BY SA 40 The Palace of Justice in Milan, Italy. / Paolobon140 CC BY-SA 4.0

An Italian woman under investigation by Vatican authorities for suspected embezzlement was released from a jail in Milan on Friday, as she awaits a decision on the Vatican's extradition request.

A Milan court of appeal decided Oct. 30 to release Cecilia Marogna, 39, from Milan's San Vittore jail on condition that she daily register her presence to local police, according to Il Fatto Quotidiano.

A self-described geopolitical analyst and security consultant, Marogna has been in custody following her arrest Oct. 13 on an international warrant issued by the Vatican through Interpol.

Vatican prosecutors requested Marogna's extradition to the city state, which she has appealed. The appeal process is expected to take as long as a month.

The native Sardinian has been accused of misappropriating Vatican funds from payments of more than 500,000 euros she received from the Secretariat of State through her Slovenia-registered company in 2018 and 2019.

The accusation is that funds intended for humanitarian purposes were used for personal expenses, including stays at luxury hotels and purchases of designer label handbags.

Prosecutors deemed Marogna a flight risk, asking her to be kept in police custody, but her appeal for release was accepted by a Milan court of appeals Oct. 30.

Marogna has said she worked for the Holy See's Secretariat of State as a security consultant and strategist, and she acknowledged receiving hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican, stating that the money all went to her Vatican consultancy work and her salary.

Expensive gifts "were used to create cooperative relationships," she said.

It has been reported that these payments were made under the direction of the former sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who has been accused of using Marogna to build "off-books" intelligence networks.

Becciu has also been reported to be under Vatican investigation for his connection to Marogna's case, but lawyers for the cardinal denied the report in a statement Oct. 28, stating that Becciu has not been contacted by Vatican authorities.

"In the interest of His Eminence the Cardinal, the defense attorneys once again reiterate that their client has not received any communication from the competent authority," said lawyers Fabio Viglione and Agostinangelo Marras.

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