The Vatican on Friday forcefully denied that murdered papal guard commandant Alois Estermann had been a spy for East Germany's Stasi secret police.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, responding to questions about a German newspaper report, said the "hypothesis is not even being taken into consideration.""It is not the first time that inconsistencies are written about an honest man," Navarro-Valls said in a statement.

The German newspaper Berliner Kurier reported on Friday that Estermann, who with his wife was shot dead by a junior officer in the Swiss Guard, was taken on by the Stasi in 1979 and supplied information on the Vatican between 1981 and 1984.

Quoting an unnamed source in Berlin, it said Estermann on at least seven occasions sent highly confidential Vatican material on a night train from Rome to Innsbruck in Austria, where it was collected by a Stasi employee.

The Vatican said earlier this week 23-year-old Swiss Guard vice-corporal Cedric Tornay shot Estermann and his wife in a "fit of madness" because he had been passed over for a military decoration. Tornay then shot himself.