Josef Wesolowski falls ill
Former Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, who was accused of abusing boys, has died (Reuters)

A former archbishop standing trial on charges of sexually abusing young boys and holding child pornography has died while under house arrest, the Holy See said. The Vatican's former envoy to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, 66, was found dead early in the morning of 28 August by Franciscan Friars housing him the tiny city state. He is believed to have died of natural causes, according to an early investigation by Vatican authorities that have ordered an autopsy and informed the Pope.

In June, the Polish native was ordered to stand trial over accusations of paedophilia, in what was an unprecedented move from the Vatican. Wesolowski was arrested in Rome after being recalled from the Dominican Republic over media allegations he had hired "rent boys".

He was subsequently found guilty of sexual abuse and defrocked – the first top papal representative to receive such a sentence – in a canonical trial that paved the way for criminal charges. During the probe, Vatican detectives also found thousands of sexually explicit files on his office computer, with a second stash of material retrieved on a laptop he used during his trips abroad.

The trial was set to start in July but it never started as Wesolowski fell ill on the eve of the first hearing and couldn't attend the proceedings. The ex-prelate spent the past 11 months under modified house arrest, serving the custodial measure in a small room in the basement of the Collegio dei Penitenzieri, a convent located in the same building hosting the Vatican's court and gendarmerie in the Santa Marta square. His death brings the trial to its end.