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Woman wanted by Vatican asks Italian government to intervene

ROME (AP) — Lawyers for an Italian intelligence analyst wanted by the Vatican on embezzlement-related charges have asked Italy’s government to press papal prosecutors to decide whether to put her on trial or archive the case.

In a June 8 registered letter and an email to the Italian embassy to the Holy See, the lawyers argued that Cecilia Marogna hasn’t been able to find work or been able to support her young daughter since she was “illegally” arrested at the Vatican’s request in October.

They asked the embassy to intervene with the Vatican on behalf of Marogna, an Italian citizen, “to put an end to this situation of (stagnation) due to the damaging inaction by the authorities of the Vatican City State,” according to the communications provided to The Associated Press.

The Italian embassy declined to comment Thursday.

Vatican prosecutors have accused Marogna of embezzlement and misappropriation of Holy See funds. They say she was paid at least 575,000 euros ($700,000) by the Vatican secretariat of state from 2018-2019 to help liberate Catholic hostages, but that the money was used instead to buy Prada, Chanel and other high-end luxury goods.

Marogna has said she was paid for legitimate intelligence and security work, and reimbursed for her expenses.

Italian police arrested Marogna in Milan on Oct. 13 based on an international warrant issued by the Vatican via Interpol. She was jailed for two weeks before an Italian court ordered her freed.

Italy’s highest court ruled that she never should have been arrested since there is no extradition treaty between Italy and the Vatican, and a court needed to evaluate if she could be extradited. In January, in an embarrassing admission that it would likely lose in court, the Vatican formally dropped its extradition request altogether.

At the time, Vatican prosecutors said a trial against Marogna was “imminent.” But six months later, they have not charged her with any crime.

The Marogna investigation is a spinoff of the main Vatican probe into the secretariat of state’s 350-million-euro investment into a London real estate venture, which has similarly dragged on for two years without any indictments being handed down.

Marogna has said she reached out to the secretariat of state’s then-No. 2, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, in 2015 with concerns about security for Vatican embassies in hot spots, and was quickly brought into Becciu’s inner circle. He hired her as an external security consultant and authorized payments for her.

Pope Francis sacked Becciu in September as the Vatican’s saint-making chief as a result of yet another investigation. In that one, Becciu is under investigation for alleged embezzlement for having donated 100,000 euros in Holy See funds to a diocesan charity run by his brother. He denies wrongdoing.

Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press