Pope's ex-butler Paolo Gabriele on trial for theft

Pope Benedict XVI's former butler has gone
on trial in the Vatican on charges of
aggravated theft.
Paolo Gabriele, 46, has admitted taking confidential
documents and leaking them to the Italian media -
although no guilty plea has been entered.
Mr Gabriele has told investigators that he was
hoping to expose "evil and corruption" within the
While technically he faces up to four years in prison
if found guilty, he could be pardoned by the Pope.
He is standing trial along with Vatican computer
technician Claudio Sciarpelletti, who is accused of
aiding and abetting a crime.
Mr Gabriele appeared in court, the Vatican
confirmed, but his co-defendant exerted his right to
stay away from the proceeding.
If he is jailed, Mr Gabriele will serve his sentence in
an Italian prison, as Vatican City has no long-term
detention facilities on its territory.
Mr Gabriele was the Pope's trusted servant for years
and held the keys to the papal apartments.
Many of the letters and other documents he took
from the pontiff's desk were published in a book by
an Italian investigative journalist in May.
The so-called "Vatileaks" scandal has sparked
allegations of corruption and internal conflicts at the
Holy See.
The BBC's David Willey in Rome says it has been
one of the most difficult crises of Pope Benedict's
seven-year papacy.
No TV cameras or recorders are being allowed inside
the courtroom for the most high-profile case to be
held in the Vatican since the Holy See was
established as a sovereign state in 1929.
The Vatican was arrested in May, accused of passing
papal correspondence to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi,
whose book His Holiness: The secret papers of Pope
Benedict XVI was published that month.
Some of the most sensational letters were written to
the Pope by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano,
currently the Vatican's ambassador to Washington,
who was deputy governor of Vatican City at the
In one letter, Archbishop
Vigano complains that when
he took office in 2009, he
discovered corruption,
nepotism and cronyism
linked to the awarding of
contracts to outside
companies at inflated
He later writes about a
smear campaign against
him by other Vatican
officials upset at his actions
to clean up purchasing
The archbishop begs in vain not to be moved away
from the Vatican as a punishment for exposing the
alleged corruption.
Correspondents say the revelations seem aimed
primarily at discrediting the Vatican's powerful
Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who
has been in his post since 2006.
Prosecutors quoted Mr Gabriele as saying during his
interrogation that he knew taking the documents
was wrong but he felt the Holy Spirit was inspiring
him to shed light on the problems he saw around
He said he felt the Pope was being kept in the dark
or misinformed by his collaborators.
"Seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the
Church... I was sure that a shock, even a media one,
would have been healthy to bring the church back
on the right track," he was quoted as saying in June.
Pope Benedict said after his former butler's arrest
that the news had "brought sadness in my heart".
Psychologists were summoned by the Vatican to
determine whether Mr Gabriele could be held
responsible for his actions.
The results were conflicting.
One report concluded that while he could be held
accountable for his actions, he was socially
dangerous, easily influenced and could "commit
acts that could endanger himself or others".
This report described Mr Gabriele as subject to ideas
of "grandiosity", as attention-seeking and as a
simple man with a "fragile personality with paranoid
tendencies covering profound personal insecurity".
Another report cited in the indictment concluded
that the defendant, a a 46-year-old father of three,
had shown no signs of major psychological disorder
or of being dangerous.
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