The Vatican’s controversial trial of journalists and whistleblowers resumes on Monday a week after it was put on hold following new claims about sex, lies and spies.
The trial was delayed by a week after one of the accused sought more time to prepare her defence.
Three Vatican insiders and two Italian reporters face potential prison terms of up to eight years in the case.
Francesca Chaouqui, a PR expert accused of leaking classified documents to journalists, had asked for five days to study the prosecution case against her and possibly introduce new evidence after replacing her court-appointed lawyer with her own defence counsel.
The prosecution did not object and the presiding judge said proceedings would resume on December 7, dashing the hopes of Vatican officials that the high-profile case might be wrapped up before the official start of a Catholic Jubilee year the following day.
Pope Francis, while returning from a visit to Africa last week, had told journalists on his return flight to the Vatican that the leaks scandal was not giving him sleepless nights.
“This isn’t the Lucrezia Borgia era,” he quipped in a reference to the daughter of Pope Alexander VI in the 15th century, who was accused of incest, poisoning and murder.
It emerged last Monday that Chaouqui’s co-accused, Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, 54, wrote a statement six days after his arrest in which he admitted to having been sorely tempted to have an affair with Chaouqui, 33, and that he believed she was working for Italy’s secret services.
According to Italian daily La Repubblica, the statement was made on November 8 to a lawyer no longer working for Vallejo Balda.
Several Italian media outlets have reported that the priest’s new counsel plans to ask the court for his client to undergo psychiatric evaluation — implying he may seek to put forward mental issues as a mitigating factor in his defence.