Pope’s butler to face trial on Saturday
Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict’s former personal butler, goes to trial on Saturday (Sept. 29) for stealing the pontiff’s private papers and leaking them to the press. His crime proved a global embarrassment for the Vatican, revealing infighting and allegations of corruption among the secretive top echelons of the Catholic Church.
But, according to professor Giovanni Giacobbe, a Vatican’s prosecutor, a conviction carries a maximum jail term of only four years in the lenient legal system of the world’s smallest state.
Gabriele was arrested by Vatican police on May 23, and will be tried for “aggravated theft” together with Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer technician at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State who has been charged with aiding and abetting Gabriele.
After being granted house arrest in late June, Gabriele still lives under surveillance inside the Vatican walls with his wife and three children. Because his job required constant contact with the pope, Gabriele was one of the few lay people to be granted Vatican citizenship and residency.
Gabriele confessed to his crime and, if convicted, would have to serve time in an Italian prison since the Vatican doesn’t have its own jail. But many Vatican watchers assume that Benedict would pardon him after the sentence.
During a briefing with reporters on Thursday (Sept. 27), Vatican prosecutor Giacobbe stressed that the Vatican tribunal’s three lay judges are “independent” and not subject to any pressure from church authorities. [More]