Vat­i­can in­dicts for­mer am­bas­sador

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY NI­COLE WINFIELD

The Vat­i­can’s for­mer am­bas­sador to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic has been in­dicted on charges he sex­u­ally abused young boys in the Caribbean coun­try and had child pornog­ra­phy on his com­puter and will stand trial next month in a Vat­i­can court.

The Holy See said Mon­day that Jozef Wesolowski will have his first hear­ing July 11, the first time such a high-rank­ing Vat­i­can offi- cial will stand trial for sex abuse.

The Holy See re­called Wesolowski in 2013 af­ter ru­mors sur­faced in Santo Domingo that he al­legedly paid shoeshine boys to mas­tur­bate. Wesolowski has since been de­frocked and placed un­der mod­i­fied house ar­rest in­side Vat­i­can City pending a de­ci­sion by the Vat­i­can crim­i­nal court on whether to in­dict him.

That de­ci­sion came June 6, when the Vat­i­can pros­e­cu­tor asked the head of the Vat­i­can City State tri­bunal to in­dict him — a de­ci­sion that was an­nounced Mon­day.

The case has been highly sen­si­tive, given that the Pol­ish-born Wesolowski was an am­bas­sador of the Holy See — a di­rect rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pope and not just one of the world’s 440,000 priests — and had been or­dained both a priest and a bishop by St. John Paul II.

Last year, a Holy See tri­bunal found him guilty un­der canon law of abus­ing young boys and de­frocked him, the harsh­est sen­tence un­der church law that can be meted out. Now, the case goes to the Vat­i­can’s crim­i­nal courts, which can im­pose jail time if he is found guilty.

As a pa­pal diplo­mat and cit­i­zen of the Vat­i­can City State, Wesolowski is also sub­ject to the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Vat­i­can City State, which in 2013 up­dated its laws to specif­i­cally crim­i­nal­ize pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy.

The Vat­i­can said Wesolowski is ac­cused of hav­ing porn while he was in Rome from Au­gust 2013, when he was re­called, un­til his ar­rest Sept. 22, 2014, mean­ing that the new law can ap­ply.

The 2013 leg­is­la­tion also specif­i­cally crim­i­nal­ized sex­ual abuse of chil­dren, but the ac­cu­sa­tions against Wesolowski stem from be­fore the law was passed, mean­ing the old law would pre­sum­ably have to ap­ply.

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