A Spanish priest accused of leaking secret documents to journalists in the so-called Vatileaks scandal was released from prison and placed under house arrest, a spokesman for the Holy See said Wednesday.
Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda was arrested in November over accusations he leaked confidential documents to the Italian press, along with his assistant Nicola Maio and Francesca Chaouqui, a former PR consultant to the Vatican.
Vallejo Balda was released from jail Tuesday and is being housed in a small flat in a convent located above the Vatican police station, spokesman Ciro Benedettini told AFP, adding that he was barred from leaving the city-state.
The priest had made a statement saying he leaked the documents under Chaouqui’s influence and that he had been sorely tempted to break his vow of celibacy as a result of her sexual advances.
She has rubbished his claims.
The Vatican has been widely criticised for pursuing the prosecution of the reporters in a case that has generated many embarrassing headlines for the Holy See.
The documents provide evidence of mismanagement in Vatican spending and some elements of corruption and were used as the basis of books by the two investigative journalists who are also on trial.
The two Italian journalists on trial in the case, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, have published books based on the documents at the heart of the trial.
They depict the Vatican bureaucracy that Francis inherited in 2013 as being on the verge of implosion thanks to a cocktail of chronic over-spending, feeble accounting systems and serious irregularities in several departments which may have masked corruption.
One of their most striking revelations was that less than 20 percent of donations made by believers around the world under the Peter’s Pence scheme ended up being spent on good works.
The rest was swallowed up by the Vatican bureaucracy, partly to subsidise the luxurious lifestyles of certain Rome-based cardinals and partly to plug financing gaps arising from the institution’s chronic lack of monetary controls.