The Latest: Vatican court refuses to stop embezzlement case
Jul. 18, 2017
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on the Vatican embezzlement trial (all times local):
A Vatican tribunal has rejected attempts by two former executives of its children's hospital to dismiss an embezzlement case, asserting that it has the right to try them on charges they diverted nearly a half-million euros in hospital donations to renovate a top cardinal's penthouse.
Lawyers for former hospital president Giuseppe Profiti and ex-treasurer Massimo Spina argued at the trial opening Tuesday that the Vatican court had no jurisdiction to prosecute activities of a hospital foundation that was located in Italy, not the Vatican.
The tribunal president, Judge Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, rejected the motion and set new hearings for Sept. 7-9.
Profiti has defended using the 422,000 euros ($485,000) in donations to spruce up Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's flat, saying it was an investment because he intended to host hospital fundraising events there.
Two former executives of the Vatican's pediatric hospital are going on trial on charges they diverted 422,000 euros ($485,000) in hospital donations to renovate the retirement home of the Catholic Church's retired second-in-command.
Former hospital president Giuseppe Profiti and ex-treasurer Massimo Spina face between three to five years in prison and fines starting at 5,000 euros if found guilty of embezzlement. The penalty can be reduced if the amount diverted is repaid before the trial starts.
Profiti has said the funds he used from the Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus) foundation to renovate the 300-square meter (3,230-square-foot) apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was an investment, since he intended to use it for future fundraising events for the hospital.
Bertone agreed to host such parties, saying he would take care to ensure that "third parties" — not the foundation — would pay for any renovations needed. Whatever happened to those "third parties" is unclear, but Bertone spent 300,000 euros of his own money for the work on top of the 422,000 that came from the foundation.
The scandal is the latest to strike the Holy See as Francis works to clean up centuries of shady business dealings in the walled-in, 44-hectare (109-acre) offshore city state, the world's smallest.