Vatican judges on recently found two climate activists guilty of criminally damaging the base of an important statue in the Vatican Museums during a protest last year. As part of the conviction, Guido Viero, 61, and Ester Goffi, 26, were ordered to pay a combined approximately $30,390 in damages to Vatican City State. They were also ordered to pay $1,080 for the Vatican’s defense and, together with a third defendant, an unspecified amount in trial costs. Viero and Goffi were additionally each given suspended fines of $1,620 and suspended sentences of nine months in prison. The suspensions are lifted if the crime is committed again within five years. Viero and Goffi superglued their hands to the marble base holding Laocoön and His Sons, an ancient marble sculpture on display in the Vatican Museums, on the morning of Aug. 18, 2022. They were found guilty of aggravated damage to the base of the statue through the use of “particularly tough and corrosive synthetic adhesive.”
Laura Zorzini, who video-recorded the demonstration in the Vatican Museums, was also given a suspended fine of $129. The three are part of Ultima Generazione (“Last Generation”), an Italian group that encourages nonviolent civil disobedience to “raise the alarm on the climate emergency.” “The sentence today in Vatican City: 9 months in prison for one gram of glue. An exaggerated sentence that does not want to recognize the dramatic nature of the situation that motivates all our protests,” the group wrote on Twitter after the conviction June 12. Ultima Generazione is soliciting donations to help Viero and Goffi pay their personal legal fees and the more than $30,000 in damages awarded to Vatican City State. The climate group is also behind other recent high-profile protests in Italy, including throwing carbon black in Rome’s Trevi Fountain and Four Rivers Fountain in May. On May 23, about a dozen members of the group threw mud at Rome’s Senate building while two members put mud on their bare chests to protest what they said was the government’s complicity in disastrous flooding in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy last month.