ROME (AP) – The Vatican abruptly dropped its request for the extradition of an Italian woman wanted on charges of embezzlement in a case that would have determined whether Italy considers the Vatican to be a state where someone can receive a fair trial.
At a court hearing in Milan, the Vatican said it was no longer seeking to arrest Cecilia Marogna. Therefore, he eliminated any reason to consider extradition. A statement from the Vatican court indicates that its decision would allow her to freely participate in an “imminent” trial in the city state.
However, the main objective of the move seems to be to avoid the shameful possibility that the Milan court will rule against Vatican prosecutors, given that there is no extradition treaty between the two states. Marogna’s lawyers could also have argued that without such a treaty, Italian law prohibits sending citizens to a country where their “fundamental right” to a fair trial is not guaranteed.
Two Italian courts have already ruled against Vatican prosecutors in the Marogna case and a more extensive Vatican corruption probe, exposing how the Vatican’s judicial system is inconsistent with European standards.
Italian lawyers who have previously defended clients before the Vatican court claim that the procedures are outdated, do not offer equal rights for defendants and are subject to arbitrary interference from the pontiff who as absolute monarch exercises exclusive legislative, executive and judicial powers.
For example, in a recent corruption case, Pope Francis authorized a procedure that prevents an independent judge from supervising prosecutors during the investigative phase. There is also no possibility for the defense to challenge testimony or evidence obtained during the investigation, as would be required in Italy.