Vatican city tops world crime stats

Newly released figures show that the Vatican's justice department dealt with 827 civil and criminal cases during 2006, resulting in the tiny papal state having the world's worst per capita crime statistics, a German magazine says.

According to light-hearted article in German magazine, Der Spiegel, the top crime neighbourhood in the world is found not in Sao Paulo, Brazil or in New York's Bronx but in the Vatican where pickpockets are rampant among the tourists.

Vatican promoter of justice, or attorney general, Msgr Nicola Picardi released statistics showing that state's justice department in 2006 had to contend with 341 civil and 486 criminal cases, which, for a population of 492, comes to 1.5 cases per person - twenty times the rate in surrounding Italy.

Picardi added that most criminal cases were matters of pickpocketing or purse-snatching. However, there were also other petty crimes like fraud and forgery committed not by Vatican staff but by a few of the 18 million pilgrims and tourists who visit St Peter's Cathedral and the Vatican Museums every year.

Most perpetrators go unpunished, Der Spiegel says because few are caught - and even when they are caught the Vatican, which has no prisons, has to send the convicted to Italy for punishment.

Meanwhile, in a somewhat more sober report, Zenit notes that Msgr Picardi said that "during 2006, Vatican justice was able to dispatch a number of proceedings essentially equivalent to those that arrived" for the tribunal, and 99.2 per cent for the office of the promoter of justice, he noted in his report broadcast on Vatican Radio.

Msgr Picardi's crime report has become an annual event since the Vatican published its first crime statistics in 2003.

Although most offences are minor, there was a murder of a Swiss Guard in 1998, as well as the attempt on the life of John Paul II in 1981.

Is the Vatican a Rogue State? (Der Spiegel, 19/1/07)
Vatican Justice Department Keeping Up (Zenit, 18/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)

Vatican issues first crime report for Holy City (CathNews, 9/1/03)
Former Vatican aide pleads guilty in fraud case (CathNews, 10/9/02)

Vatican issues first crime report for Holy City (CathNews, 9/1/03)

22 Jan 2007

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