Vat­i­can diplo­mat re­called over porn

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD -

VAT­I­CAN CITY: A high-rank­ing Vat­i­can priest work­ing in the Holy See’s em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton has been re­called af­ter US pros­e­cu­tors asked for him to be charged and face trial in a child pornog­ra­phy in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Vat­i­can and US of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

The Vat­i­can de­clined to iden­tify the diplo­mat, but said he was cur­rently in Vat­i­can City and that Vat­i­can pros­e­cu­tors had launched their own in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The State Department said it had asked the Vat­i­can to lift the of­fi­cial’s diplo­matic im­mu­nity on Au­gust 21, but the re­quest was de­nied.

For the State Department to make such a re­quest, its lawyers would have needed to be con­vinced that there was rea­son­able cause for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.

In a state­ment, the Vat­i­can said the US State Department had no­ti­fied the Vat­i­can on Au­gust 21 of a “pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tion of laws re­lat­ing to child pornog­ra­phy im­ages” by one of its diplo­mats in Wash­ing­ton.

A US of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the case said the priest was a se­nior mem­ber of the Vat­i­can em­bassy staff.

The Vat­i­can year­book lists three coun­sel­lors who work un­der the nun­cio, or am­bas­sador.

The Vat­i­can said re­call­ing the priest was con­sis­tent with diplo­matic prac­tice of sov­er­eign states.

In de­clin­ing to iden­tify him, the Vat­i­can said the case was sub­ject to con­fi­den­tial­ity while still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Vat­i­can has re­called en­voys be­fore — in­clud­ing its for­mer am­bas­sador to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, who was re­called in 2013 af­ter be­ing ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing young boys on the Caribbean is­land.

The Vat­i­can jus­ti­fied its de­ci­sion to re­move Mon­signor Jozef Wesolowski from Do­mini­can ju­ris­dic­tion by sub­mit­ting him first to a canon­i­cal court pro­ceed­ing at the Vat­i­can, and then putting him on trial in the Vat­i­can’s crim­i­nal court, which has ju­ris­dic­tion over the Holy See’s diplo­matic corps.

Wesolowski was de­frocked by the church court but died be­fore the crim­i­nal trial be­gan.

Do­mini­can pros­e­cu­tors ini­tially baulked at the re­call, and they never filed charges be­cause of his im­mu­nity.

The Vat­i­can does not have ex­tra­di­tion treaties.

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