Extraditing Persons from Italy to Vatican City: Chimera or Real Possibility?


  • Francesco Seatzu




In the course of the last year Italy was confronted with the unusual request from the Vatican City to extradite an Italian national to face charges of embezzlement and misappropriation of Holy See funds. The Holy See requested the extradition of Cecilia Marogna, a self described intelligence analyst and private spy from Sardinia, who worked for Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a senior Vatican official who was demoted over embezzlement claims. The case has received considerable press coverage and attention through print and online media worldwide, not least because of its numerous twists and turns such as the arrest of Marogna in Milan on an Interpol warrant issued at the Holy See’s request, the sudden drop of the extradition request by the Vatican authorities, and Italy’s highest court ruling that
Cecilia Marogna never should have been arrested before a court evaluated whether she could be extradited. The aim of this Article is to explore whether the extradition of an Italian national, from Italy to the Vatican, unlike what has been claimed by Marogna’s defense lawyers and implicitly accepted by the Vatican authorities that dropped the extradition request, is instead possible. The thesis defends this possibility regardless of the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty between Italy and the Vatican and of an ad hoc extradition agreement between Italy and the Holy See. But this is only provided that the request for extradition concerns an Italian citizen convicted or accused of corruption-related crimes like Cecilia Marogna. This Article will proceed as follows: after an introduction,
Section 1 will discuss and reject an argument that infers a prohibition of extradition from Italy to the Vatican from the wording of Article 22 of the Lateran Treaty of 1929. Sections 2 and 3 will consider and exclude that an obstacle to extradition from Vatican City to Italy may be inferred from the poor quality of the criminal justice system in Vatican City or from the authoritarian character of the Vatican’s internal legal order that is only presumed but not demonstrated. Finally, Section 4 will claim and argue that a proper duty to
extradite persons not only from the Vatican to Italy but also from Italy to the Vatican should be inferred from Articles 43 to 49 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNAC) of which both Italy and the Vatican City/Holy See are bound as contracting parties.