Vatican City, Oct 6, 2012 / 09:54 am
Paolo Gabriele, the Pope's former butler, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of stealing confidential Vatican papers -- but it is likely that the 46-year-old Italian will receive a pardon from Pope Benedict XVI.
Eyewitnesses said that Gabriele sat impassively as Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre handed down the sentence. The three-year prison sentence was reduced to 18 months due to "mitigating circumstances," including Gabriele's lack of previous convictions, years of service and admission of wrongdoing.
Following the verdict, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the possibility of a papal pardon for Gabriele was now "very concrete and very likely."
In his final address to the court Gabriele told the panel of three judges "I do not feel like I'm a thief," adding that he "acted only out of visceral love for the Church of Christ and for its visible head on earth." He said that he had acted alone and without accomplices.