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Vatican judges sets court date for auditor general’s lawsuit

A court in Vatican City has set a date for hearing the lawsuit filed by the former auditor general Libero Milone, and set a deadline for lawyers to make written submissions before judges hear their oral arguments.


Milone, the first-ever person to hold the office of auditor general for the Holy See, has argued he was forced from office by senior Vatican officials because he found evidence of widespread corruption, including among serving cardinals. He was originally joined in the suit by his former deputy, Ferrucio Panicco, who died last month of cancer, after blaming Vatican officials for seizing personal medical records which delayed his treatment. 

The eventual day in court could prove pivotal: Milone has submitted to the court hundreds of pages of documents he claims prove financial corruption by senior cardinals, which he has threatened to release publicly in the event he determines he cannot get a fair hearing.

Ordered to deposit a final round of written arguments by early October, lawyers for Milone and his recently deceased former deputy, Ferruccio Panicco, will be in a Vatican courtroom October 18, according to court documents sent to the parties, issued July 19 and obtained by The Pillar

There, they’ll face counsel for the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Office of the Auditor General, before a panel of judges in the city state.

Milone and Panicco announced in November last year that they would sue their former employers for wrongful termination, loss of earnings, and reputational damage over their ouster from office in 2017. At that time, both men were detained for hours by Vatican City gendarmes and threatened with prosecution if they refused to resign their posts.

At the time of his removal from office, the then sostituto at the Vatican Secretariat of State, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, released a statement confirming Milone’s detention, and that he would have faced prosecution had he not agreed to resign. Becciu accused Milone of “spying” on the private finances of senior curial officials, including Becciu.

Milone alleges that he was forced from office because he had discovered systematic corruption in the highest levels of the Roman curia and that his office and computer had been put under surveillance for months. 

Since their dismissal, Milone has previously said, he and Panicco made several attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement with the Vatican through the Secretariat of State but without success. Milone has said he has been unable to work because of the reputational damage he has suffered because of the Vatican’s statements about him.

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The decrees issued by the court last week, the judges also denied various petitions from the parties, including from the Office of the Auditor General and the Secretariat of State that nearly a dozen documents submitted in evidence by Milone be withdrawn as “illicitly obtained.”

As part of the pre-trial process in the lawsuit, Panicco and Milone filed several hundred pages of documents which they said prove they discovered widespread corruption among senior curial officials at the Vatican and were forced out as a result.

Milone and Pannico also petitioned the court in January to consider the roles of specific cardinals in financial malpractice and to be allowed to call them to give testimony in the lawsuit. That petition was also denied by the judges last week on the grounds that the requests were “not relevant for the purposes of the decision of the present case.”

The October 18 hearing is expected to mark the close of proceedings in the suit, in which Milone and Pannico (now via his family) are seeking 9 million euros in damages. The judges are expected to adjourn to consider a ruling thereafter.

Panicco, who died last month at the age of 63, suffered from cancer for a number of years and had accused the Holy See of seizing and withholding his personal medical records, delaying his treatment and ensuring an eventual terminal diagnosis. 

Panicco said that when he was fired, medical records kept in his office were seized by Vatican police. Those records showed that Panicco had heightened PSA levels, a key marker for prostate cancer. They also showed the results of medical tests Panicco underwent in the Vatican’s clinics.

Without the records, Panicco had to find a new urologist after he was fired, and repeat the medical tests he had already taken.

“I estimate that the delay in the diagnosis could be at least 12 months, and I think that without this delay in the diagnosis it would have been early enough not to have an incurable disease,” he told the media last year.

Despite requests to Cardinal Parolin and other officials for the return of his medical records, the documents were never returned.

“​​I think they — the Vatican — are guilty, not maliciously, of sentencing me to death for no reason, after a slow and significant suffering,” Panicco said last year.

Key to the auditors’ claims, according to a court filings reported by The Pillar in March, is that it was the then head of the Vatican Corps of Gendarmes, Domenico Giani, who along with Cardinal Becciu forced their resignations.

“What it was,” Milone told The Pillar last year, “is that I discovered that there were cardinals putting money in their pockets, they were doing strange things.”

“Evidently, [Cardinal] Becciu and his friends must have come across these reports because he was the pope’s chief of staff at the time, and got worried because ‘this guy’ was putting these cardinals in difficulty.”

The former auditors claimed that Giani engaged in his own financial misconduct, and that when Milone discovered it, the police chief formally accused them of illicit spying. The former auditors also stated that their Vatican offices had been bugged and computers hacked. Milone has said that although he made several complaints to Vatican police, the security breach was never investigated.

Speaking to The Pillar in November,Milone noted that Giani “had a reason to get me out,” because he had uncovered evidence of corruption in the Vatican police force.

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