13 Aug 2012

Pope’s former butler to stand trial for theft

Pope Benedict’s former butler Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested last May after documents alleging corruption in the Vatican were leaked, is ordered to stand trial on charges of aggravated theft.

In a 35-page document on the case, the Vatican also revealed that the butler had an accomplice, a computer expert who worked in the Vatican bureaucracy. The layman, who was named as Claudio Sciarpelletti, was also ordered to stand trial on charges of aiding an abetting a crime.

The Vatican said it was not clear when the trial would be held but it would not be before the end of September.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope, as the sovereign head of Vatican City, could intervene at any time to stop the trial or pardon Gabriele but he did not know if the pontiff would do so.

If found guilty Gabriele, who worked in the Pope’s private apartments serving him meals and helping him dress, could face six years in jail under the laws of the papal state.

According to the document, Gabriele told investigators he had acted because he saw “evil and corruption everywhere in the church” and wanted to help root it out “because the Pope was not sufficiently informed”.

‘I could not control myself anymore’

In a section that referred to Gabriele’s state of mind, he told investigators that after he had started copying documents and leaking them, “I reached the point of no return and could not control myself any more”.

He continued: “I was sure that a shock, perhaps by using the media, could be a healthy thing to bring the Church back on the right track.”

The indictment order also revealed that a cheque made out to the Pope for 100,000 euros, a gold nugget and a 16th century book were found in Gabriele’s house in a search, objects which the butler said he intended to give back.

The documents leaked earlier this year alleged corruption in the Vatican’s dealings with Italian companies, including the payment of inflated prices for services, and detailed rivalries between cardinals and clashes over the running of the Vatican bank.

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