Pope's butler quizzed by police over leaks

 

The Pope's butler was formally questioned today in the investigation into the leaks of the pontiff's papers, a scandal that represents one of the gravest security breaches in recent Vatican history.

Paolo Gabriele was arrested on May 23 and has been held ever since in a secure room inside the Vatican police building, a 13ft by 13ft room with bathroom, desk, bed and a crucifix on the wall.

He is accused of aggravated theft, and if convicted could face up to six years in prison.

Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, a judge on the Vatican tribunal, told reporters that Gabriele had been questioned by the investigating judge this morning in the presence of his two lawyers, the first such formal interrogation that could lead to an indictment or the dropping of charges.

The leaks scandal has convulsed the Vatican for months and resulted in an unprecedented investigation into who was responsible. Gabriele was arrested as part of the criminal probe, but a commission of cardinals is investigating the origins of the scandal, and the Vatican secretariat of state is trying to solve the whodunit as well.

Vatican documents leaked to the press in recent months have alleged corruption in Vatican finances as well as internal bickering over the Holy See's efforts to show more transparency in its financial operations.

The scandal took on even greater weight with the publication earlier this month of His Holiness, a book that reproduced confidential letters and memos to and from Benedict and his personal secretary.

The leaks have seemed aimed at discrediting Benedict XVI's number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, who has been criticised for shortcomings in running the Vatican.

The book's author, Gianluigi Nuzzi, has said his sources numbered more than 10, and there are questions about whether Gabriele acted alone. He has promised to co-operate with investigators, and today's interrogation represented the first time he might have named names.

Judge Papanti-Pelletier said that while Gabriele is so far charged only with aggravated theft, prosecutors could add on other charges in the Vatican's penal code, such as being part of a criminal association, receiving stolen goods or revealing state secrets.

Those charges carry a maximum of one to five years.

Gabriele can be held without being indicted for 50 days, with an extension of an additional 50 days if the investigation proves complicated, he said.

The Vatican's legal system is based on variations of Italy's penal and civil codes dating back to the 1800s - with a few modifications. Like Italy, there is the preliminary trial level, an appeals court and a high court, the proceedings of which are open to the public. Unlike Italy, if a cardinal were to be put on trial, he would only be judged by the Vatican's high court, which is presided over by three cardinals.

As princes of the church, cardinals can only be judged by fellow cardinals and the Pope himself, Judge Papanti-Pelletier said. As such, they skip over the primary and appeals court, which are not presided over by cardinals.

As in most countries, the head of state - in this case Benedict - can intervene to pardon someone found guilty. Technically the Pope can intervene even before the trial begins, but Judge Papanti-Pelletier said the norm would be for a papal pardon to come after a possible conviction.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
News
Valerie Trierweiler’s book paints Hollande as a cold-hearted hypocrite
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
filmsMockingjay Part 1 taking hit franchise to new levels
News
Bill Cosby
peopleActor has firmly defended himself against all claims
Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in Far From The Madding Crowd
filmsAlso much to look forward to for Thomas Hardy fans
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

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Ashdown Group: Junior Reports Developer / Application Support Engineer

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Recruitment Genius: Client Support Officer

£10 - £11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The candidate must be committed, engag...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible