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Vatican sees rise in crime

4 February 2015 10:47

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The Vatican’s chief prosecutor says the city state is experiencing a rise in crime, including drug trafficking, child pornography and money laundering.

Gian Piero Miliano made the remarks while presenting a report on criminal activity and judicial work in the Vatican City last year.

Miliano said authorities were taking action against pedophilia with two cases of possession of child pornographic material being investigated in the Vatican City, which is a sovereign state within the Italian capital of Rome and holds a population of 842 people.

The prosecutor did not identify those accused in the cases; however, the Holy See spokesman Federico Lombardi named disgraced former Ambassador Josef Wesolowski as one of the accused.

Wesolowski lost his diplomatic immunity last year after being convicted by a church tribunal of abusing young boys while being an envoy to the Dominican Republic. The former Polish archbishop had more than 100,000 child porn files on his computer, with another 45,000 images deleted.

Wesolowski is currently awaiting trial at the Vatican in what will be the first sex abuse trial ever held at the Holy See.

Drugs and money laundering

In addition, Miliano, the chief prosecutor, said Vatican authorities intercepted three drug deliveries last year, including a packet containing 340 grams of cocaine, with a street value of 44 million euros.

Miliano said the Vatican City is also fighting money laundering, including five alleged cases reported to the court by the Financial Intelligence Authority.

Earlier this year, Vatican’s chief accountant, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, was arrested for allegedly using his Vatican bank accounts to launder 20 million euros.

The Roman Catholic Church has been hit by numerous scandals in the past few years, involving allegations of covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests to protect pedophiles and the reputation of the Church.

More than 4,000 priests in the United States have reportedly faced sexual abuse allegations since the 1950s in cases involving more than 10,000 children.

Pope Francis, who was appointed in 2013 with a mandate to overhaul the Vatican, has warned that there will be “no privileges” for bishops when it comes to child sex offenses. The pontiff also promised more action in response to accusations of cover-up and excessive leniency by the Vatican.

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