“The deposition was written by Perlasca himself,” Putignani said, “but it’s clear that he was coaxed by Chaouqui.”
In her testimony, Putignani said that in her effort to convince Perlasca to come forward, Chaouqui claimed to be working with Vatican prosecutors, gendarmes and even Francis. She said Chaouqui sent Perlasca details through Putignani about the Vatican investigation into Becciu and the London property deal.
“It was clear that Monsignor Becciu kept Monsignor Perlasca under his talon for years in a psychological enslavement,” Putignani said, calling the cardinal and monsignor both by the title customarily used for all officials in daily Vatican conversations. Putignani described Perlasca as a man marked by a “total loyalty to his superiors,” for which Becciu, she believed, rewarded him by attempting to “eliminate” Perlasca.
“Despite all the pressure from Cardinal Becciu, Perlasca decided to speak the truth,” Putignani said. Putignani added that Perlasca at one point wrote to Francis to tell him the facts of the case; the pope answered him with a letter of encouragement, she said, without offering proof.
Relations between Chaouqui and Putignani eventually soured, with Putignani saying Chaouqui treated her and Perlasca as “the town fools.” Chaouqui for her part claimed Putignani was hostile to Francis. Putignani told the judges she reported Chaouqui to Vatican authorities five times.
At the end of the day’s proceedings, Becciu made a voluntary declaration to the court in which he raised his doubts about the close relationship that Chaouqui claims to have with Francis. While denying that he was behind Chaouqui’s arrest, Becciu said he thought her unqualified to work for the Holy See. He also claimed that Francis refused to offer Chaouqui a pardon when he asked on her behalf in 2017.
“The madam succeeded in her plan to take her revenge on me,” he concluded.
The next trial date was set for Jan. 26.
This article originally appeared here.