ROME — A former consultant to a pontifical commission who denied to a Vatican court that she leaked documents about the Vatican’s financial reform to an Italian journalist admitted to sending the documents when she was first interrogated, a Vatican policeman said Tuesday.

Stefano DeSantis, an officer investigating the leaking of the documents, testified May 24 that Francesca Chaouqui told Vatican police officials that she sent documents regarding a proposed Vatican Asset Management (VAM) program to Gianluigi Nuzzi, author of a book titled “Merchants in the Temple.”

“We never assumed that she gave the documents.  She admitted to it,” DeSantis told the court.

Chaouqui is on trial, along with Monsignor Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and Nicola Maio, the monsignor’s former assistant, for “committing several illegal acts of divulging news and documents concerning fundamental interests of the Holy See and (Vatican City) State.”

Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, author of another book on Church finances called “Avarice,” are accused of “soliciting and exercising pressure, especially on Vallejo Balda,” to obtain the documents.

The trial session May 24 began with the cross-examination of Gianluca Gauzzi, deputy commissioner of the Vatican police, by the defendants’ lawyers regarding his testimony May 16.

Gauzzi revealed the contents found on two iPhones and a Macbook Pro belonging to Msgr. Vallejo Balda. In some of the messages found on the monsignor’s devices, Gauzzi said, “Chaouqui asked Vallejo to use WhatsApp because she believed it was a secure and tap-proof messaging system.”

When asked by Laura Sgro, Chaouqui’s lawyer, about the examination of the chats between Chaouqui and Vallejo Balda, Gauzzi stated that the police saw the message exchange on the Spanish monsignor’s phone.

Chaouqui, he added, deleted the messaging application from her phone before handing it over to the Vatican’s IT experts as part of the investigation.

However, because WhatsApp is connected to a person’s phone number, the police are certain the messages were between Vallejo Balda and Chaouqui even though she deleted the app from her phone, Gauzzi said.

Regarding Chaouqui’s initial confession of sending Nuzzi the documents, DeSantis told the court that she exhibited “exemplary behavior” when she gave the Vatican police her formal statement and even made clarifications or specifications in her formal declaration.