The name of Carles Puigdemont resounded this Thursday by surprise in the hall of the Vatican museums converted into a courtroom, where Cardinal Angelo Becciu is being tried for the irregular management of the reserved funds of the Secretariat of State. The surprise came from the hand of Cecilia Marogna, a supposed expert in intelligence services, who advised the cardinal in the case of the release of the religious Gloria Cecilia Narváez, kidnapped by Al Qaeda in Mali in 2017.
Marogna has not consented to be questioned for now, but yesterday her lawyers delivered a statement to the court explaining her alleged contact between the intelligence services and Becciu, then number 3 in the Vatican, as a substitute for the Secretary of State.
Before talking about Puigdemont, Marogna mentions the Italian businessman Piergiorgio Bassi, head of Pgb Group, a consulting and lobbying company, whose clients include several high-ranking Russian officials. This is the company that in 2016 made it possible for Nikolai Sadovnikov to obtain a visa to travel to Italy, the supposed Russian emissary who in October 2017 met with the then president of the Generalitat just one day before the Parliament of Catalonia declared independence unilaterally, as 'El Periódico' uncovered.
Marogna explains that Bassi introduced himself to her as an associate of the number 1 of the Italian secret services, General Giovanni Caravelli. And she brought him two "delegates for particular diplomatic issues" of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The two profiles correspond to the identity of Goloschchapov Konstantin Veniaminovich and Lukjanov Vladimir Nikolayevich." The Italian explained that Nikolayevich was "executive director" of the center for information and analysis of strategic situations.
Supposedly Bassi introduced them to Marogna to intercede with the cardinal on behalf of the Russians. They wanted to know the situation of a fund deposited in the Institute for the Works of Religion; that the Vatican gave them the relics of Saint Nicholas; and that the Holy See rent them a house to set up "a listening center." The requests were not answered. But Marogna was surprised by a petition regarding Puigdemont: «I had doubts about the operational genuineness of Bassi and his Russian partners when he sent me a letter in official folio from the president of Catalonia 'Puigdumon' (sic) during the period of the crisis due to the referendum for its independence".
«The (official) letter included a request for a contact/meeting between the self-proclaimed president Puigdumon (sic) and Cardinal Becciu. I spoke about this with the cardinal and he told me that he was available to listen to what was happening in Spain and if there was room for a diplomatic intervention from the Vatican », he adds.
But the woman did not expect the conditions that Bassi set for the meeting: that it be by Skype, since Puigdemont could not travel "in that period", and make the video call from Becciu's "private apartment" and from a Skype account Cardinal's staff. "The request seemed to me at least unusual and at least illogical," writes Marogna.
Neither the supposed expert in intelligence matters nor Becciu saw the operation "clearly" and rejected Bassi's offer; and they sent Puigdemont's envoy to request "an official request to the Secretary of State" to request "diplomatic contact between the reference institutions, to avoid instrumentalization and a diplomatic incident," he writes.
The call with Becciu did not take place, but Puigdemont kept trying. Marogna assures that a few months later Bassi told him that he had contacted the Cardinal Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, to whom he would have communicated "the arguments" that he did not transmit to Becciu, but without confirming whether, finally, Puigdemont was able to talk with him. Vatican directly.