VATICAN CITY (AP) — The lawyer for a woman at the heart of a trial over leaks from the Vatican said Tuesday her client may not be likable, but that she shouldn't be convicted just because she's "unpleasant, insufferable, arrogant and presumptuous."
Lawyers for the five defendants in the case began their closing arguments Tuesday after prosecutors rested their case. Prosecutors requested the stiffest sentence, three years and nine months, for Francesca Chaouqui, a communications expert who gave birth during the trial.
Chaouqui was a member of a papal reform commission investigating Vatican finances. She, the commission's No. 2 and his secretary were accused of forming a criminal association and providing commission documents to two Italian journalists.
The journalists wrote books last year based on confidential documents exposing greed, mismanagement and corruption in the Vatican. They too were put on trial, accused of conspiracy and publishing confidential information — a crime under Vatican City State law.
Prosecutors on Monday asked that one journalist, Emiliano Fittipaldi, be absolved for lack of evidence that he was part of the conspiracy. They requested a one-year suspended sentence for the other one, Gianluigi Nuzzi.
Prosecutors on Monday described Chaouqui as the "inspiration" for the conspiracy. Chaouqui, who has come to trial this week with baby Pietro, has denied she passed reserved documents to the reporters and has vowed to go to jail, babe in arms, rather than seek a papal pardon if she's convicted.
Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, a former high-ranking Vatican official, admitted he provided Nuzzi with passwords to the password-protected documents, but has blamed Chaouqui for creating an atmosphere of threats and pressure that made him feel that he had no choice but to provide the documents.
Chaouqui's lawyer, Laura Sgro, told the court on Tuesday that Vallejo was the culprit, and was heaping blame on Chaouqui to try to improve his lot.
"Francesca Chaouqui isn't likeable. She's never quiet. She talks when she shouldn't," Sgro told the court. "But you can't convict her just because she's unlikeable, unpleasant, insufferable, arrogant and presumptuous."
Lawyers for Nuzzi, Fittipaldi and Vallejo's secretary are due to give their closing arguments Wednesday with a verdict expected thereafter.
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