Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the most senior Catholic Church official ever to stand trial before a Vatican criminal court, has been convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail.
The trial exposed in-fighting and intrigue in the highest echelons of the Vatican… and revolved mostly around a murky Vatican investment in a London property.
The court said Becciu had been irresponsible and "highly speculative" to invest more than $200 million in a fund connected to the building about ten years ago.
The Vatican sold the building last year, taking an estimated loss of about 140 million euros, or $150 million.
Becciu’s lawyer said he would appeal the decision:
''Yes, a conviction came. We will read the grounds. We believe that the trial has proven the cardinal's absolute innocence, an innocence in which we believe - and I repeat - that we believe has been proven in the course of the hearing.”
Nine other officials also faced charges… in a case that stretched over two-and-a-half years with 86 courtroom hearings. Only one was acquitted of all counts.
Becciu – who was stripped of his title by Pope Francis in 2020 - was also accused of funnelling money and contracts to companies or charities controlled by his brothers on their native island of Sardinia.
Another accusation involved his hiring of a woman who described herself as a security analyst, also from Sardinia, as part of a secret project to help win freedom for a nun who had been kidnapped in Mali.
Becciu and the woman were both found guilty of aggravated fraud related to the transfer of money.
Becciu, who lives in the Vatican, is expected to remain free for now.