Vatican police testify in trial of pope’s butler
Members of the Vatican police force have testified that they found thousands of pages of documents — about Freemasonry, secret service security forces and internal Vatican letters — inside the Vatican City apartment of Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler, who is on trial for aggravated theft.
Their testimony continues Wednesday in a Vatican courtroom in the trial of Paolo Gabriele, the 46-year-old father of three who faces four years in prison if convicted.
On Tuesday, Gabriele declared himself innocent of the charge, but acknowledged he photocopied the pope’s private correspondence, in broad daylight and in the presence of others, using the photocopier in the office he shared with the pope’s two private secretaries.
“I declare myself innocent concerning the charge of aggravated theft. I feel guilty of having betrayed the trust of the Holy Father, whom I love as a son would,” he said.
Prosecutors say Gabriele stole the pope’s letters and documents alleging power struggles and corruption inside the Vatican and leaked them to a journalist in an unprecedented papal security breach and one of the most damaging scandals of Benedict’s seven-year papacy.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Gabriele’s attorney Cristiana Arru complained that her client spent his first 20 days in Vatican detention in a room so small he couldn’t stretch his arms out and with lights kept on 24 hours a day. Vatican police swiftly defended their treatment of Gabriele, but the Vatican prosecutor opened an investigation regardless. [More]