Vatican diplomat is now wanted in Canada for posting child porn at Christmas

The faithful gather in front of St Peter's Basilica as Pope Francis leads prayers at the Vatican, Sept 17, 2017.
The faithful gather in front of St Peter's Basilica as Pope Francis leads prayers at the Vatican, Sept 17, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - Carlo Capella, a Vatican diplomat who was recalled from the embassy in the US to the Holy See because of a child pornography investigation, is now wanted in Canada on similar charges, according to reports by the Associated Press and Canadian media.

The police department in Windsor, Ontario, announced on Thursday that it is seeking to arrest Capella, 50, for uploading child pornography to a social network while he was visiting a house of worship in Windsor between Dec 24 and 27, in 2016.

The AP and Canadian media reported that the Windsor suspect is the same man as the Vatican diplomat.

 

Authorities issued a warrant to arrest Capella, who is at the Vatican, if he is found anywhere in Canada. He faces charges in the country of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

Windsor police said that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre first flagged the crime in February, months before the US State Department contacted the Vatican's secretary of state in August to say that US investigators suspected the Vatican diplomat of a crime.

According to a senior State Department official, the US asked the Vatican to waive Capella's diplomatic immunity so that he could face prosecution in the United States, but the Holy See refused and transferred Capella from Washington DC back to the Vatican, where the church is investigating his actions.

The Italian-born priest has had a wide-ranging career in the Vatican's diplomatic corps, including service in India and Hong Kong. He joined the four-member diplomatic staff at the Vatican Embassy in Washington in 2016.

In the Vatican City, Capella could face consequences in two disciplinary systems if he is found guilty: Under church law, he could be defrocked as a priest, and under civil law in the city-state, he could face criminal penalties of up to two years in prison and US$12,000 (S$16,000) in fines for possession of child pornography, and stricter punishment for distribution.

Windsor police said that the pornography did not appear to involve any local children, and that it was uploaded while Capella was visiting a local church - presumably, given the dates, for Christmas.