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Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Date Posted:

A Fresh look at the Swiss Guard Murders - Conclusion

Dr Clive Gillis

If we are to say that the Vatican is dressing up the murder of Swiss Guard Cedric Tornay as suicide, we have to look past his grieving mother and consider the facts alone.

A verdict of suicide is bad enough.  It shows Vatican City to be a hotbed of debased passion, with the authorities compounding matters by their callous handling of the affair.  Ridiculous snap judgements and the customary, haughty, Vatican silence make us suspicious that Rome knows more than she cares to tell.  True, other armies have their problems, but the pope’s army is supposed to be the army of the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.  Three fatalities – two soldiers and a forces wife – in an army of only about one hundred, calls for an explanation.

‘No one saw anything’

The circumstances surrounding the sudden death of John Paul I in 1978 show some similarities to this tragedy.  In a pocket sized state, “no one saw anything … no one heard anything” at the time of either incident.  This left the Vatican free to put its own spin on both events.

Speed and utter secrecy characterised the removal of the bodies from the Estermann flat.  Making them out to be patients, they were transported to the Vatican Gemelli hospital in a white ambulance bearing the Vatican number plate SCV 424.  SCV stands for State of Vatican City, but knowing Italians call it Se Cristo Vedesse – If Christ could see!  No forensic precautions such as gloves or bags were employed.

Then again, in both instances, post mortems were carried out with haste.  If this was theatre, we would say that the morticians were waiting in the wings.  The Swiss Guard slaughter involved five gunshots fired in the small Estermann flat “just a few metres from the Holy Father”.  With the benefit of hindsight neighbouring nun Sr. Anna-Lina later spoke of “loud noises” from next door.  Clearly these were insufficient at the time to prompt suspicion.  The Vatican authorities were therefore free from the outset to interpret the bloody scene in any way they wished.  No one else, least of all the Italian police, had an opportunity to view it.  When John Follain showed the Vatican report to Professor Bernard Knight, a famous retired forensic pathologist, Knight branded them a “bunch of prima donnas”.

The ‘suicide note’

Then there was the letter that Cedric Tornay had written to his mother just before he died.  Mme Baudet has insisted from the first that it is a forgery.  Her statement gained wide circulation under headlines such as La lettera di mio figlio e’ falsa.  This possibility was taken up by Fabio Croce in the first conspiracy theory paperback on the subject.  Should the Vatican, or more precisely Opus Dei, or some other faction within the Vatican, wish to rid themselves of Tornay’s commander, to avoid a sodomite scandal, and to use Tornay as the fall guy, a planted letter would be the sort of device we might expect them to employ.

Strange discrepancies

But readers must judge for themselves.  Tornay used different paper from usual.  He had dated the letter “4.05.98”.  Yet he always wrote the month in full and never used a zero to delineate the first nine months of the year.  He refers to Estermann as “Lieutenant Colonel” when he must have known that Estermann was now Colonel if he was really writing a suicide note hours before taking his life.  He called his sister “Melinda” when he always referred to her as “Dada”.  He refers to the “Pope” when he always used the term “Holy Father”.  Mme Baudet has always insisted, “My son would not have killed someone just because of a medal”.  The Vatican simply brushes these discrepancies aside.

Tornay writes, “Tell Melinda Sarah and Papa that I love you all …”  But Tornay was very fond of his step brothers Yvan and Joel.  Why not mention them?  Why not?  Because a Vatican forger would not know of their existence.  What is more, the letter was addressed to Mme Chamorel.  Tornay never used this name but always his mother’s maiden name Baudet.  Why such a fundamental error?  The forger would have to rely on the Vatican’s administrative sources.  “Chamorel” is the surname that appears on the Vatican registers.  “The Vatican scribe who was given the task of fabricating this letter was not a prophet … He had no way of knowing that Mrs Chamorel had divorced her second husband sometime previously … The person who concocted this letter knew Tornay well … but only in an administrative sense”.

Little wonder that the handwriting experts engaged by Mme Baudet confirm that Cedric Tornay did not write this letter.

The press

The Vatican maintains Cedric Tornay gave this letter to a friend two hours before his death and that it remained in safe keeping until it was handed to Mme Baudet on the afternoon of her son’s funeral.  But the Italian newspapers had it before that.  “On the same morning someone had (already) sent a typed text in French without references to place or date although signed”.   Opus member and Vatican Press Secretary Navarro-Valls, who tied the case up for the Vatican within a few hours of Tornay’s death, is an obvious, possible channel.  The letter is signed “Cedrich” instead of “Cedric”.  This would be the spelling of the Swiss German fundamentalists who discriminated against the Swiss French such as Tornay and therefore points to the Opus faction in the Swiss Guard.

There is a good case for accusing the Secretary of the Swiss RC Episcopal Conference, Rolland Tauffer, at Fribourg of “lying”.  He said, “This letter is in the pocket of Cedric Tornay’s Mother … a copy of it is in the hands of the Vatican judge, and no-one else could have read its contents …”.  However what Tornay says in the letter just happens to be exactly what Navarro Valls needed to back up his snap explanation.  One could say Navarro Valls could not have written a more convenient letter himself!  With so many years experience, he would know the value of getting the Vatican line out first.  The Baudet family are immediately in the weaker position of having to refute its contents instead of marshalling facts and then forming a hypothesis.  As one commentator said, “Once the truth was snuffed out it was too late to restore it.”

More discrepancies

But most sinister of all is Tornay’s reference to his length of service, “After 3 years, six months and six days spent here putting up with all kinds of injustices …,” he planned to leave the Swiss Guard and return to Switzerland, having received his medal, and now he was counting the days.  Fabio Croce reported in 1999 that following a holiday in Mauritius seeing his father, he returned to Italy “feice e riposati” (happy and relaxed) to confide in his mother his plans “di tornarsene in Svizzera” (to return to Switzerland) at the end of his period of enlistment.

Tornay must have known exactly when his period of service would finish.  He died on the 4th of May 1998, after three years five months and three days.  Tornay’s alleged statement quoted above, “three years six months and six days” takes us to the 7th June 1998.  Had a carefully planned assassination been arranged for that day?  Had dark forces within the Vatican discovered events were overtaking them, forcing a hasty bungled compromise plan?  So hasty that the letter was released without consultation with the forger who would have immediately pointed out this fundamental problem?  The quietest whispers from the Vatican hint at an internal struggle between Opus Dei and an opposing shadowy “Masonic clan”.  This could explain why a well conceived plan could have gone wrong.

Bernard Knight

John Follain’s excellent investigation includes, as we have said, his interview with the famous pathologist Professor Bernard Knight.  To doctors of the present writer’s generation Bernard Knight is a legend.  His name is synonymous with excellence in forensic medicine.  He told Follain, “All you can say with any certainty is that the last shot was the one Tornay fired at himself … the evidence we’ve got is that Tornay killed the Estermanns and then killed himself …”.

Barbie and Milosovic

This opinion would tend to carry great weight, and when Follain realised with “dismay” that Mme. Baudet wanted him to pursue the theory that her son was murdered he withdrew.  Her world famous lawyers Jacques Verges and Luc Brossollet have defended amongst others Klaus Barbie and Slobodan Milosevic.  Follain asked, “What could Tornay have in common with the likes of Barbie and Milosevic?”  One could reply that Barbie and Milosevic both fell foul of Vatican ambition.

A booklet written by Brossollet entitled Assassination in the Vatican 4th May 1998 puts forward the evidence for a cover up of the assassination of both Tornay and Estermann.  It is selling well in Italy.  Rome maintains her cruel inscrutable silence in the face of accusations of “strident injustice”.  The lawyers have marshalled the key points of their evidence with original papers, ballistics diagrams and disturbing testimonies.  Their findings demand an answer.  Yet the lawyers complain, “This last appeal of Mme Baudet to the Holy Father has had the same treatment as all preceding: an absolute silence … Aware or not, informed or not, assenting or not, John Paul II remains sovereign and in this specific case the Supreme Judge in this (Vatican) state … where the reception of truth is conditioned by the interests of the regime …”.  Or, as Revelation puts it, “I sit as queen … and shall see no sorrow”.

Conspiracy or not, suicide or murder, one feels great sympathy for Mme Baudet who has been treated disgracefully, being misled, obstructed and insulted by the Vatican at every turn.  Her plaint is summarised in The Voice of Maguette Baudet found as an appendix to another booklet on the bloodbath, Bloody Lies in the Vatican, which also circulates widely in Rome.  Another publication, Assassination, is a catalogue of Vatican folly, silence and ineptitude such as even a banana republic would be ashamed of.  The bulk of the book reads like a scientific journal where, “new facts for the re-opening of the investigation,” are simply stated without comment.

Evasion and dirty tricks

Besides the scandal of Tornay’s fabricated letter there are ballistics doubts which at least need airing.  Furthermore, a second autopsy of Tornay in Switzerland failed to find the brain tumour the Vatican talked up for their “fit of rage” theory.  The Vatican autopsy also seems to have missed an abrasion on his wrist suggestive of a restraining ligature.  From a host of testimonies the personality of Tornay has clearly been misrepresented to fit the Vatican story of “madness”.  Even Colonel Buchs, Tornay’s Commander before Estermann, said, “this action (of Cedric) remains incomprehensible, so much the more that he was a young man full of vitality and interests, in harmony with his colleagues and who found Rome in his liking …”.

The whole episode amounts to a sickening catalogue of specific, documented instances of Vatican evasiveness when asked to answer simple questions, plus a list “dirty tricks” applied to Mme Baudet to break her resolve to pursue the matter.  The story must run on, but Rome never changes.

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