A Belgian appeals court has ruled that police raids on church headquarters in Brussels and at the home of its former cardinal earlier this year, were 'disproportionate', illegal, and any evidence gathered cannot be used by prosecutors.
During the raids, which were denounced by Pope Benedict as "deplorable", it was reported that police had detained priests in a church building for several hours and had also searched inside the tomb of a bishop.
The court ordered that all seized documents, which included around 500 files and a computer from the offices of a Church commission investigating allegations of sex abuse, must be returned.
Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, said after the decision was made public: "It is in everyone's interests that the fundamental rules of law are respected."
He added that he was "in no way opposed to a correctly run judicial investigation" and he was "satisfied that clarity has finally been shone on this affair".
The Church commission is due to report today on its findings into allegations of abuse going back several decades.