The Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome, Italy./ Sergio D’Afflitto via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 it).
Italy’s Supreme Court has overturned an arrest warrant against a broker wanted in Italy and the Vatican on allegations of financial crimes.
According to a statement from the lawyers of Gianluigi Torzi late Wednesday, a precautionary measure against the Italian businessman who brokered the final stage of the Vatican’s controversial purchase of a London property has been “annulled in its entirety.”
The case has been sent back to Rome’s Tribunal for Review. A written ruling explaining the reason for the annulment will be released by the Italian court within a month, according to the AP.
Torzi is one of the key suspects in a significant finance trial being heard by the Vatican City State’s tribunal about the London property deal.
The Vatican has accused the businessman of being part of a conspiracy to defraud the Secretariat of State of millions of euros, and has charged him with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering. He denies the charges.
An Italian magistrate issued an arrest warrant for Torzi in April on suspicion of similar financial crimes committed in Italy. The businessman has been under precautionary measures in the U.K. while awaiting extradition to Italy at the request of the Italian authorities.
The Supreme Court decision to annul the precautionary measures calls into question whether Torzi will be extradited from the U.K.
In a hearing on Oct. 6, Vatican judges ruled that Torzi’s portion of the finance trial would effectively be on hold until he could present himself at the Vatican.
A statement from Torzi’s communication team on Oct. 13 said that Torzi’s lawyers, Ambra Giovene and Marco Franco, called the high court’s annulment of the precautionary measure “an important step towards proving their client’s innocence.”
The statement also said that evidence used by the Supreme Court in its decision was provided by Vatican prosecutors.
In March, a British judge reversed the seizure of Torzi’s accounts, saying that Vatican prosecutors withheld and misrepresented information in their request to the U.K. court.
Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court overturned another judge’s decision to seize the British-based accounts of Gianluigi Torzi, as had been requested by Vatican prosecutors.