July 4, 2016 / 5:11 PM / 3 years ago

Prosecutors seek four convictions, one acquittal, at Vatileaks trial

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Vatican prosecutors on Monday asked for sentences ranging from one year to nearly four years for four defendants accused of leaking or publishing sensitive documents depicting a Vatican plagued by graft.

Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi arrives at the Vatican for his trial March 14, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/Files

The prosecutors in the so-called Vatileaks II trial asked for charges to be dropped against Emiliano Fittipaldi, one of the two journalists who published books based on the leaks last year, saying there was insufficient evidence to convict him.

The longest sentence requested was three year and nine months for Francesca Chaouqui, 35. An Italian public relations consultant, she was part of a now-defunct Vatican commission on financial reform.

The prosecution asked for a sentence of three years and one month for Spanish Monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, also a member of the commission, and one year and nine months for his assistant, Nicola Maio.

During the trial Chaouqui denied Vallejo Balda’s suggestion that she had seduced him.

The three were charged with criminal association and conspiracy to divulge private documents. Sentencing at the trial, which began last November, is expected on Wednesday or Thursday.

The prosecution asked for a one year suspended sentence for journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose best-selling book based on the leaks depicted a Vatican where Pope Francis faces stiff resistance to his reform agenda.

The two journalists are accused of putting pressure on the three to get the documents. All the defendants faced up to eight years in prison.

Vallejo Balda admitted during the trial that he had leaked documents to journalists, but Chaouqui said she had not given them anything more than press articles already in the public domain.

Vallejo Balda has accused her of intimidating and manipulating him in order to get a permanent job in the Vatican after the commission’s work was done.

The Vatican made it a crime to disclose official documents in 2013 after a separate leaks scandal, which the media dubbed Vatileaks and which preceded the unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

The trial resumes on Tuesday with closing arguments by the defendants’ lawyers.

Reporting By Philip Pullella, editing by Larry King

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