Vatican police have arrested a priest and former diplomat over child pornography allegations.
Carlo Alberto Capella who was a high ranking diplomat at the Holy See’s US embassy was arrested and taken into custody on Saturday.
Monsignor Capella was suddenly recalled from his position in Washington last year.
Channel News Asia reports: A statement identified the accused as Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella and said he was arrested earlier on Saturday in the Vatican after a warrant was issued by the Holy See’s chief magistrate at the end of an investigation.
The Vatican statement said Capella, who was recalled from the Vatican embassy in Washington last August, was arrested according to articles of a 2013 law signed by Pope Francis. The articles cited by the statement related to child pornography.
If indicted, the monsignor will have to stand trial in the Vatican and faces up to 12 years in jail.
The scandal is the latest blow to the Catholic Church as it struggles to overcome repeated sex abuse cases among its clergy.
Francis has declared zero tolerance over abuse scandals that have beset the Church for decades, but critics say he has not done enough, particularly to hold bishops responsible for mishandling or covering up abuse.
The State Department notified the Holy See in August of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington, the Vatican said in September.
A State Department spokesman said in September that the United States had requested that the man’s diplomatic immunity be waived to open the way for possible prosecution there but the Vatican refused.
Capella entered the diplomatic corps in 2004 and before serving in Washington he held diplomatic posts in Hong Kong and Italy.
It was not possible to reach Capella, who the Vatican said was being held in a cell in the Vatican’s police barracks.
After Capella was recalled to Rome, police in Windsor, Canada said they had issued an arrest warrant for him on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography on the internet.
A statement by Canadian police at the time said the suspected offences occurred while he was visiting “a place of worship” in Canada.