Man arrested after forcing entry into Vatican City

A 40-year-old man drives a car at high speed into Vatican City State, and is arrested after forcing two checkpoints of the Swiss Guard and the Vatican Gendarmerie.

By Vatican News

On Thursday evening, a man driving a car forced entry through one of the main entrances of Vatican City, and managed to reach the Damasus Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where he was apprehended by the Vatican gendarmes.

The incident happened at the Santa Anna gate after 8:00 pm.

According to the Holy See Press Office, the man was prevented from entering the Vatican by the Swiss Guards, and then, after leaving the entrance, returned at high speed, forcing the two checkpoints of the Swiss Guard and of the Gendarmerie Corps.

"In an attempt to stop the car," reads a press release, "the inspector of the Gendarmerie, on guard at the gate, fired a shot in the direction of the front tires of the vehicle.”

Despite being hit, the vehicle managed to continue on its way. The gendarmes subsequently sounded the alarm for an incursion, and blocked the access point to the rear of St. Peter's Basilica, to the Vatican Gardens and the Santa Marta Square, where the Pope’s residence is located.

In the meantime, the car reached the St. Damasus  Courtyard: "The driver got out independently, and was stopped and placed under arrest by the Gendarmerie Corps," the Vatican said.

The Italian man, aged about 40, was immediately visited by the doctors of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene of the Vatican City State, who found him to be in a “serious state of psychophysical alteration”. 

He was held overnight in a prison cell in the new premises of the Gendarmerie barracks, as he awaited arraignment before the Vatican's judicial authorities.

The Holy See Press Office reported on Friday afternoon that following an interrogation by the magistrate and in the presence of his lawyer, the man arrested was taken to the psychiatric ward of the nearby Santo Spirito in Sassia Hospital for obbligatory medical treatment after having determined his condition.

Story updated at 17:55 Rome time on 19 May 2023

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19 May 2023, 09:08