A convicted paedophile priest who claimed that an underage prostitution ring was operating inside the Holy Roman Church has been arrested for slander.
Italian prosecutors said that Patrizio Poggi, a 46-year-old former priest who named nine clergymen and three other people as involved in recruiting and abusing young boys in Rome, made up the allegations out of personal animosity.
The Vatican had refused to reinstate Poggi after he served a five-year sentence for abusing teenage boys during his time as a parish priest at the San Filippo Neri church in Rome.
"Poggi conceived and put in action a slanderous plan, presenting circumstances that were false'', prosecutors said.
"He wanted to cause a scandal that he believed could have led to a review of his sentence and his re-admission to the church."
The Vatican had rejected Poggi's allegations as false and said he was motivated by a desire for vengeance. It criticised sections of the Italian media for publishing the names of those accused by Poggi.
"The cardinal expresses his full confidence in the magistracy and declares himself full convinced that this slander will be demolished, demonstrating Poggi's claims to be untrue," said Cardinal Agostino Vallini, head of the Catholic Vicariate of Rome.
"God will hold everyone accountable for their deeds."