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Trial begins for ex-Vatican officials accused of stealing hospital funds


Pope Francis greets a nurse during a visit to the Bambino Gesu children's hospital in Rome in this 2013 file photo. Two former top hospital officials appeared before a Vatican court July 18 for a pretrial hearing on allegations of embezzlement.(CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Two former top Vatican hospital officials appeared before a Vatican court for a pretrial hearing on allegations of embezzlement.

Giuseppe Profiti, who was president of Bambino Gesu hospital from 2008 to 2015, and Massimo Spina, the former treasurer, appeared with their lawyers before Vatican magistrates July 18 in a nearly two-hour preliminary hearing, led by the presiding Vatican judge, Paolo Papanti-Pelletier.

A court clerk read the charges, which the Vatican had made public July 13: Profiti, 55, and Spina, 57, were accused of an illicit appropriation and use of funds belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation to pay Gianantonio Bandera, an Italian contractor, to refurbish an apartment belonging to Vatican City State. The apartment was used as the residence of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.

The indictment said Profiti and Spina extracted more than 420,000 euros for "completely non-institutional ends" by using the money to refurbish Vatican property in order "to benefit Gianantonio Bandera's company." It said the alleged crime was committed in Vatican City State and spanned from November 2013 to May 28, 2014 -- the time period that the contractor's seven invoices were dated and paid for, according to news reports.

Lawyers for the defendants made their pretrial motions, beginning with Antonello Blasi, Profiti's attorney.

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