The Vatican’s criminal trial over leaked documents took a complicated but expected turn Tuesday with the birth of a baby named Pietro.
Francesca Chaouqui, the public relations expert and member of a papal reform commission, gave birth just as the trial in which she is a defendant resumed.
The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, announced the birth with a “Benvenuto!” (Welcome!) and sent his best wishes for the arrival of the baby boy.
The Vatican has accused Chaouqui as well as a Vatican monsignor and his assistant of leaking confidential financial documents to two journalists. The journalists are also on trial, accused of breaking Vatican law by publishing confidential information. They all face up to eight years in prison. Chaouqui has said that if convicted, she would refuse a papal pardon and raise her son behind bars, becoming something of a martyr for Francis’s reform effort and courtroom drama that has played out for the past six months.
It remains to be seen if the Vatican would incarcerate a new mother and child named after the apostle Peter.
Fr Lombardi said that final arguments and sentencing requests would be made on July 4-6.
Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldo wrote books in November featuring allegations over the lavish nature of residences enjoyed by some Vatican cardinals, the high prices required to get a saint approved and millions in missing inventory from the Vatican’s tax-free stores.
Mgr Lucio Vallejo Balda, the number two in the Vatican reform commission, has admitted he provided Nuzzi with access to the password-protected documents. But he denied that he was threatened or pressured by Nuzzi to do so.
Nuzzi took the stand on Tuesday to deny that Chaouqui had passed him any documentation, saying she merely introduced him to Vallejo.
Mgr Vallejo, for his part, had been taken into Vatican custody immediately after his November arrest but was subsequently granted house arrest. He was put back in a Vatican prison earlier this year after he was caught with a mobile phone smuggled to him in a doughnut.
Fr Lombardi announced that as of Saturday, Vallejo was “no longer in a state of detention but of semi-freedom.”