Pope's butler guilty in 'Vatileaks' case

Paolo Gabriele could face jail but insists he released papers to make Pontiff aware of endemic 'evil and corruption' in Rome

The Pope's butler was convicted yesterday of stealing the pontiff's private documents and leaking them to a journalist, in the gravest Vatican security breach in recent memory. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but the Vatican said a papal pardon was likely.

Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre read the verdict aloud two hours after the three-judge Vatican panel began their deliberations. Paolo Gabriele stood impassively as it was read out in the tribunal tucked behind St Peter's Basilica.

The sentence was reduced from three years to 18 months because of a series of mitigating circumstances, including the fact that Gabriele had no previous record, had acknowledged that he had betrayed the Pope and was convinced, "albeit erroneously", that he was doing the right thing.

Gabriele was accused of stealing the Pope's private correspondence and passing it on to a journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose book, published earlier this year, revealed the intrigue, petty infighting and allegations of corruption and homosexual liaisons that plague the leadership of the Catholic church.

He said he leaked the documents as he felt the Pope wasn't being informed of the "evil and corruption" in the Vatican, and exposing the problems publicly would put the church back on the right track.

In his final appeal to the court on Saturday morning, Gabriele insisted he was no thief: "The thing I feel strongly in me is the conviction that I acted out of exclusive love, I would say visceral love, for the church of Christ and its visible head," he told the court.

Gabriele's attorney, Cristiana Arru, said the sentence was "good, balanced" and that she was awaiting the judges' written reasoning before deciding whether to appeal.

Nuzzi's book, His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVI's Secret Papers, convulsed the Vatican for months and prompted an unprecedented response, with the Pope naming a commission of cardinals, alongside Vatican magistrates, to investigate the origin of the leaks.

Ms Arru said Gabriele would return to his Vatican City apartment to begin serving his sentence. He has been held under house arrest since July. Gabriele was also ordered to pay court costs.

The Rev Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said a papal pardon was "concrete and likely" and that the Pope would now study the court file before deciding.

With the trial over, several questions still remain, most importantly whether Gabriele acted alone.

In his testimony this week, Gabriele insisted "in the most absolute way" that he had no accomplices. But in earlier statements to prosecutors, he named half a dozen people, including cardinals and monsignors, to whom he spoke and said he received "suggestions" from the general environment in which he lived. He even identified one layman as the source of a segment of Nuzzi's book detailing conflicts of interest among Vatican police officers.

But in his closing arguments, the prosecutor, Nicola Picardi, said the investigation turned up no proof of any complicity in Gabriele's scheme. "Suggestions aren't proof of the presence of accomplices," he said.

There is, however, another suspect in the case: Claudio Sciarpelletti, a 48-year-old computer expert in the Vatican secretariat of state, charged with aiding and abetting the crime. Police say they found an envelope in his desk marked "Personal P Gabriele" with documents inside.

Sciarpelletti has said Gabriele gave him the envelope, but later that someone gave it to him to pass on to him.

Sciarpelletti's lawyer, who got his case separated out at the start of Gabriele's trial, says his client is innocent and there were no "reserved documents" in the envelope.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003