The Vatican is to sue five people, including two investigative journalists and their informers, in connection with the recent VatiLeaks 2 scandal, it announced on Saturday.
The Catholic Church accuses the five of publishing confidential documents and information relating to “the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the state.” If found guilty, they could face between four and eight years in prison, according to Italian news agency Ansa.
Among the accused are journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who have published books on Catholic Church scandals based on leaked documents. In particular, they have accused the church of irresponsibly wasting the money of its faithful.
The other three are their informers, who are all connected to the Vatican commission Cosea, which was set up by Pope Francis to help reform the state’s economic and administrative structures. They are also accused of forming a criminal organization.
Former Cosea secretary Lucio Vallejo Balda has been in custody since early November. The other two are PR expert and Cosea adviser Francesca Chaouqui, who was briefly arrested earlier this month, as well as Balda’s colleague Nicola Maio.
The Vatican is a sovereign state with its own judicial system. Should the accused not appear in court, the trial would go ahead in their absence, the Vatican said.
Fittipaldi had given a statement to the police earlier this week, while Nuzzi ignored a summons, citing significant shortcomings in the Vatican’s legislation on press freedom.
Nuzzi had already published a book based on leaked confidential information out of the Vatican in 2012, triggering the first VatiLeaks scandal.
His main informer at the time was a valet of the then pope Benedict XVI. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison and pardoned by the pope shortly after.