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Prosecutors ask Vatican court to jail PR adviser for ‘inspiring’ leak of documents

Vaitleaks defendants at the beginning of the trial in November: from left, Gianluigi Nuzzi, Emiliano Fittipaldi, Francesca Chaouqui and Monsignor Angelo Lucio Vallejo Balda (PA)

Vatican prosecutors have requested that PR expert Francesca Chaouqui be given a tough jail sentence for “inspiring” the leaking of confidential documents.

In their closing arguments on Monday, prosecutors Gian Pietro Milano and Roberto Zannotti asked the Vatican tribunal to hand down a sentence of three years and nine months to Chaouqui, as well as convicting Mgr Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda and his secretary, Nicola Maio, for having formed a “criminal association” with the aim of divulging secret information to two journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi.

The sentence recommended for Mgr Vallejo is three years and one month, while prosecutors have request Maio be jailed for one year and nine months.

Mgr Vallejo previously 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, as prosecutors alleged

Chaouqui, who gave birth to a boy last month, responded to the request by saying: “How shameful”.

Prosecutors asked the tribunal to absolve Fittipaldi and give a suspended one-year sentence to Nuzzi for publishing books based on confidential Vatican documents which allegedly show financial mismanagement and corruption in the top ranks of the Church. The prosecutors said they were guilty of a “moral conspiracy”.

The books, which were published in November, feature allegations concerning 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.

Defence lawyers will give closing statements on Tuesday with a final ruling due Wednesday.

Prosecutors insisted in their closing arguments that the publication of the information itself wasn’t being punished but rather the conspiracy to divulge secret information that concerned the fundamental interests of the Vatican.

“This conspiracy, the psychological impulse, the availability and presence of the journalists reinforced the will of those who divulged the information to reveal their news,” Zannotti said.

The Vatican in 2013 criminalised the publication of “reserved” information after Nuzzi wrote a book based on Vatican documents passed to him by Benedict XVI’s butler.