Vatican reveals new leaks trial, report on butler's sentencing

Fr Federico Lombardi 3 CNA Vatican Catholic News 11 16 10 Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. File photo CNA.

In the latest chapter of the "Vatileaks" saga, officials announced today that the Vatican computer technician accused of helping steal confidential papal documents will go on trial in two weeks.

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, head of the Vatican Tribunal, announced Oct. 23 that the first hearing for Claudio Sciarpelletti will take place Nov. 5. Sciarpelletti is accused of aiding and abetting the Pope's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, in stealing confidential Vatican papers which were later leaked to the Italian press.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi offered another development in the Vatileaks case at an Oct. 23 press conference, where he announced the publication of the 15-page Vatican Tribunal document that explains how the three-judge panel arrived at Gabriele's Oct. 6 guilty verdict.

When police officers searched Gabriele's apartment May 23, following the publication of several confidential letters in Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi's book "Your Holiness," they discovered approximately 1,000 incriminating documents and 82 boxes of evidence.

Although a nugget of gold, a check in the Pope's name and a 16th-century copy of "The Aeneid" were found in Gabriele's possession, the former butler's sentence focused solely on his theft of confidential papal documents.

The judges did not consider the other items found in Gabriele's possession because they had doubts about the way the search was conducted that uncovered them, Fr. Lombardi explained.

The report also showed that a psychiatric examination revealed no mental condition compromising Gabriele's responsibility for the theft.

The tribunal made the distinction that Gabriele's actions constituted theft and not embezzlement, since his actions showed no intention to obtain economic benefit.

During the week-long trial, the judges had heard how Gabriele stole copies of confidential documents from the Papal Apartments. These included personal correspondence between Pope Benedict and various cardinals, along with encrypted communications from papal ambassadors across the world. 

Some of the papers were marked "to be destroyed" in German and were written in the Pope's handwriting.

During his trial, Gabriele told 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."

The Pope's former butler was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Oct. 6, after being found guilty of stealing the documents. In his final address, he said he acted alone and without accomplices.

The report said that Gabriele's sentence was based on the penalties found in the Vatican City State criminal code. Though the promoter of justice had requested that Gabriele be banned from ever holding public office, the code had no such provisions allowing such a punishment.

With the publication of the report, Gabriele had the opportunity to appeal his conviction, but did not do so. The prosecution also now has the opportunity to appeal the sentence. Until then, Fr. Lombardi said Gabriele will remain under house arrest.

The possibility remains that Pope Benedict will pardon Gabriele, Fr. Lombardi said, but made no mention of a final decision being reached.

If the Pope does not pardon him, Gabriele will serve the remainder of his sentence in the Vatican prison.

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