(CNN in Spanish) — At the heart of the Vatican’s “trial of the century”, which sentenced the once powerful Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu to five and a half years in prison for his involvement in various financial crimes, there is another central figure who has made multiple headlines: Cecilia. Marogna, nicknamed “Lady Cardinal”.
One of the crimes for which Becciu, who has repeatedly pleaded not guilty to the charges and announced that he will appeal the Vatican court’s ruling, was found guilty of authorizing payments from the Vatican Secretariat of State amounting to approximately US$618,000 to Cecilia Marogna. The “security consultancy” she was supposed to use to free a kidnapped nun in Mali. He did this when he held the second position in this institution.
Vatican prosecutors said Marogna used the money for personal purposes, including spending more than $54,000 on clothing, shoes and fashion accessories from high-end brands such as Prada, Gucci and Hermès. She was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison after being convicted of embezzling funds. The court also imposed a fine of approximately US$43,800 on his company Logsic Humanitarne Dejavnosti, According to the Vatican News Agency.
Marogna denied any wrongdoing and told the newspaper Corriere della Sera She spent the money on her and her assistants’ fees, travel and other living expenses. He insisted that he had developed a “network of relations in Africa and the Middle East” to assist Vatican diplomats and missionaries.
Why was Marogna christened “Lady Cardinal”?
Marogna, who is in her 40s, was nicknamed “Lady Cardinal” during the trial because of her relationship with Becciu. During the trial, the court was shown photos taken by Marogna inside the cardinal’s apartment and published on social networks with comments such as “I feel at home” and “my paradise.”
Marogna is originally from Sardinia, the same region where the cardinal lives, as reported when she was arrested in 2020. Catholic Agency ACI Prensa. In October of that year, days after being linked to the Cardinal’s financial scandal, Maronia was arrested in Milan. She was released about two weeks later.
When the Vatican police informed Becciu That the money transferred to Marogna had not been used as planned, he asked them not to tell anyone “because it would cause serious harm to him and his family.”
During pre-trial questioning, the prosecution asked a witness whether Becciu and Marogna were in an intimate relationship, which they denied. Both Becciu and Marogna denied having an inappropriate relationship.
Also during the trial, the court heard a phone call that Becchio secretly recorded with the Pope, in which he intended to confirm to the Pope that Francis had authorized the visit. Payments to free the kidnapped nun.
In the callBecciu asks the pope to confirm that he authorized payments to Marogna so that she would in turn pay the British company Inkerman to help secure the release of the nun who was kidnapped by Islamic militants in Mali in 2017, according to a copy of the book. Connection.
According to the transcript, the Pope said in the call that he vaguely remembered and asked the cardinal to write down what he wanted to confirm in writing.
The nun in question, Sister Gloria Cecilia Navais Guti, a Franciscan of Colombian origin, was released in October 2021. According to the Vatican News Agency.
With reports from CNN’s Christopher Lamb.
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