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Pope's bodyguard resigns over leak scandal

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File photo of Pope Francis at the Vatican walking next to Domenico Giani, Inspector General of the Corpo della Gendarmeria. Giani, the Vatican's security chief, resigned Monday over a leak to the media of details of a financial wrongdoing probe.

[VATICAN CITY] Pope Francis' main bodyguard Domenico Giani, the Vatican's security chief, resigned Monday over a leak to the media of details of a financial wrongdoing probe.

Pope Francis accepted Mr Giani's resignation while noting he "bears no personal responsibility" for the leak, the Vatican said.

The Argentine pontiff was furious over the publication of an internal police notice which featured the photographs of five Vatican employees - including two senior figures - targeted in a probe reportedly into a real estate deal.

The notice, addressed to the Swiss guards and Vatican policemen who guard the gates of the tiny city state, said they had been suspended "as a precaution" while the investigation was carried out.

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"This publication was prejudicial to the dignity of the people involved and to the image of the Gendarmerie (police)," said the Vatican, which has opened a probe into the leak.

Mr Giani was dubbed the pope's "guardian angel" by the media.

He served three pontiffs and could be seen on papal trips, dressed in a dark suit, standing close to the head of the Catholic Church or running beside the popemobile.

The 57-year old began his career in the Italian secret service, before joining the Vatican security forces 20 years ago and taking over as chief in 2006.

Vatican police earlier this month raided the offices of the Secretariat of State - the central governing office of the Catholic Church - and the Financial Information Authority (AIF), an independent anti-money laundering authority.

Prosecutors seized documents and electronic devices from the offices.

The five suspended included the number two at AIF and a monsignor in the Secretariat of State.

The Vatican had said the raids were linked to complaints presented by the Vatican bank and the Office of the Auditor General regarding financial transactions "carried out over time".

The Italian Espresso magazine said the probe was into "real estate operations abroad," notably in London.

AFP