Vatican arrests person with documents in leaks scandal

VATICAN CITY Fri May 25, 2012 10:27am EDT

A view of St. Peter's Square in the Vatican. April 8, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

A view of St. Peter's Square in the Vatican. April 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Vatican police on Friday arrested a person in possession of confidential documents in the first break in an investigation of the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal involving the leaking of secret papers including papal letters.

Italian media said the arrested man was someone who worked in the apartments of Pope Benedict but Vatican spokesmen said they would not disclose the man's identity until they had a green light from investigating magistrates.

A Vatican source said the person was not a priest. Another senior source said: "It's all very sad".

For much of this year, the Vatican has been at the centre of a scandal involving the leak to Italian media of documents, some of them personal letters to the pope.

Some of the documents involved allegations of corruption, mismanagement and cronyism in the awarding of contracts for work in the Vatican and internal disagreement on the management of the Vatican bank.

The president of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was ousted by its board on Thursday.

The pope, who was said to be shocked and saddened by the leaks, ordered several investigations, including one headed by Vatican police and another by a commission of cardinals.

The scandal involves the leaking of a string of sensitive documents to Italian media since the start of the year.

They included letters by an archbishop who was transferred to Washington after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, a memo which put a number of cardinals in a bad light, and documents alleging internal conflicts about the Vatican Bank.

In January, an Italian television investigation broadcast private letters to Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the pope from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of Vatican City and currently the Holy See's ambassador in Washington.

The letters showed that Vigano was transferred after he exposed what he argued was a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to Italian contractors at inflated prices.

In one letter, Vigano wrote of a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials who were upset that he had taken drastic steps to clean up the purchasing procedures. He begged to stay in the job to finish what he had started.

Bertone responded by removing Vigano from his position three years before the end of his tenure and sending him to the United States, despite his strong resistance.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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