Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 16:55 GMT
Vatican crime rate 'soars'
The Pope mourning the head of his Swiss Guard
A Swiss Guard murder was the last serious crime
The world's smallest country - the Vatican - has one of the highest crime rates in the world, a report said.

The report, for the year 2002, was presented to the pontifical court by the state's Chief Prosecutor, Nicola Picardi.
397 civil offences - crime rate of 87.2%

608 criminal offences - crime rate of 133.6%

Population: Just over 500

Size: 0.44 sq km (108 acres)

Mr Picardi said that criminal offences per capita were more than 20 times higher than in neighbouring Italy.

St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican museums provide a kind of earthly paradise for pickpockets, the report said.

Other crimes included embezzlement, fraud and insulting the police and civil servants.

The last time a serious crime was committed in the Vatican was in 1998 when a disgruntled Swiss Guard shot dead his commander and his commander's wife before killing himself.

Low clear-up rate

The Vatican - the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and home to Pope John Paul II - has a population of just over 500, not all holding Vatican citizenship.

Wednesday's statistics showed that in 2002 there were 397 civil offences and 608 penal offences.

Mr Picardi said that petty theft - purse snatching, pickpocketing and shoplifting - was the most widespread of crimes affecting millions of tourists who visit the city state every year.

The perpetrators - like the victims, tourists to the Vatican - were rarely caught, the report said, with 90% of complaints never leading to a prosecution.

But, taken statistically, the figures paint a picture of rampant criminality in the Holy See, with 87.2% of the population committing a civil offence, and penal offences running at a staggering 133.6%.

"The statistics show that there is a notable increase in litigation and in the complexity of cases, with consequences internationally and above all, for the public," Mr Picardi said.

As a result, there was a backlog of cases in before the courts, which had to deal with a record 239 cases last year, with 110 still unresolved into 2003.

But jail is not an option in the Vatican - which has no prison facilities.

Anyone receiving a jail term would be sent to Italy to serve their sentence - with the Vatican having to pay the Italian state for the costs involved.

It amazing! The Vatican claims to be the home of Christianity. It claims "the gates of Hell have not prevailed." Yet EVERYTHING about this Vat of Sin bluntly says otherwise! Fact is folks, the Vatican has made Christianity EXTREMELY unpopular and hated the World over!

The Presents of God ministry