A Maltese parish priest is set to be charged in court next Monday in connection with the robbery of sacred art, including painting and engravings, that amount to around €80,000, TVM has reported.
Deo Debono, who celebrates within the St Augustine Parish in Valletta, is believed to have stolen the art over many months, and sold them for well below their actual value, sources have reportedly said. He has also reportedly admitted to the police that he was involved in the operation.
The holy art, which was located in the Augustinian Convent in Valletta, was allegedly replaced with fakes after being stolen, so as to keep the robbery hidden as long as possible.
No one noticed the stolen art until archivist Alex Cauchi noticed fake items hanging in the convent back in January, items that were not part of the Precious Objects inventory found within the convent.
Police officers from the Cultural Property division realised it was Father Deo Debono after an incense burner and some other items that were stolen from the Santa Caterina Nun Monastery were found with an antique dealer.
The dealer reportedly obtained these items for €2,000 from Deo Debono.
It is being reported that at least seven pieces of the stolen sacred art have been recovered. They will be kept at the Courts for safekeeping and are expected to be dropped off the same day the priest is charged in court next week.
According to sources, Debono has admitted to police that he was involved in the robbery and the illegal sales of artworks. He is currently out on bail.
Ironically, his parish will be celebrating the St Augustine feast this week. Debono has been leading mass in his Valletta parish for the last five years.