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The trial of a cleric who was close to the Pope of Rome in a fraud case worth 412 million dollars

The trial of a cleric who was close to the Pope of Rome in a fraud case worth 412 million dollars

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Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Piccio (left) was a close advisor to Pope Francis

A Roman Catholic cardinal who was close to Pope Francis has appeared in court in the Vatican, accused of misusing church funds in a failed real estate project in London.

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Piccio, 73, is the most senior cleric of the modern era facing trial for alleged financial crimes.

Piccio is accused of spending 350 million euros ($412 million) of church money on a failed deal to buy a property in Chelsea, in which the church suffered huge losses. The cardinal denies any wrongdoing.

The Pope sacked Cardinal Picchio in September, after reports emerged of alleged financial wrongdoing.