A key hearing in the VatiLeaks 2 trial over leaks related to alleged financial scandals in the Vatican was on Monday postponed by a week to give a new defence lawyer time to study the case.

Main suspects, Monsignor Lucio Balda and Francesca Chaouqui were to be questioned, but presiding judge, Giuseppe Torre at the Vatican court rescheduled the hearing for Dec. 7 after Chaouqui showed up with a new counsel.

Laura Sgro replaced Agnese Camilli, who was a court-appointed lawyer, the Vatican said in a statement.

Balda, a Spanish member of the conservative Catholic movement Opus Dei, and Chaouqui, an Italian public relations consultant, were members of a now disbanded committee that advised Pope Francis on financial and administrative reforms.

It stated that they were accused, along with an aide of the monsignor, of passing information to journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi.

According to the statement, former friends Balda and Chaouqui are in the midst of a fierce spat, as Balda confesses to having had sex with Chaouqui.

He described her as a dangerous social climber with friends in high places, including former Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi, it added.

The leaked material at the centre of the trial served as the basis for two books, Merchants in the Temple by Nuzzi and Avarice by Fittipaldi, exposing resistance to papal reforms and outrageous expenses by some cardinals.

The scandal surrounding the journalists’ revelations has been dubbed VatiLeaks 2 in connection to the first VatiLeaks case, triggered in 2012 by another Nuzzi book that was also based on leaked Vatican documents.

He was not tried at the time and his main informer, a valet of then Pope Benedict XVI, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and pardoned shortly after.

That scandal allegedly contributed to the shock decision by Benedict to resign in early 2013.


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