Monday, December 28, 2009

Vatican to decide fate of woman who knocked down pope

The Vatican will decide how to proceed with the young woman responsible for knocking down Pope Benedict XVI during Christmas Eve Mass only after it reviews medical and Vatican security reports, said Vatican spokesmen. 

Critical to the prosecutor's decision will be the doctors' evaluation concerning the woman's mental state and whether or not she was "of sound mind," Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, told Catholic News Service Dec. 28. The prosecutor will also take into consideration eyewitness accounts, he said. 

When the Vatican prosecutor has all the information, including a medical evaluation, he can recommend acquitting her of any crime, handing her over to Italian or Swiss authorities, or handing down a sentence, Father Benedettini said. 

The prosecutor will send his recommendation to the Vatican tribunal, which will then make the final ruling, he said. 

Susanna Maiolo, 25, jumped a security barrier at the start of the Dec. 24 liturgy as Pope Benedict processed into St. Peter's Basilica. As Vatican security guards tackled her to the ground, she was able to pull on the pope's vestments, causing him to lose his balance and tumble to the marble floor. 

The woman, who has Italian and Swiss citizenship, was taken away by papal guards. She was not armed but she showed signs of mental instability, according to a Vatican statement Dec. 25. read more



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