The Guardian (United Kingdom)
Jo Adetunji and Tom Kington in Rome
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 29 September 2012
Benedict XVI’s former butler has gone on trial in the Vatican for stealing and leaking private documents while in the pope’s employ.
Paolo Gabriele, 46, who dressed the pope and travelled with him on public occasions, faces up to four years in jail after Vatican police discovered piles of stolen letters in his apartment, as well as gifts meant for Benedict, including a cheque for €100,000 (£80,000) and a gold nugget.
Gabriele had leaked the choicest letters to an Italian journalist, lifting the lid on accusations of kickbacks paid to win Vatican contracts, infighting among cardinals and claims the pope’s secretary of state started rumours of homosexuality against a hostile newspaper editor.
Placed under custody in a secure room at the Vatican, the father of three confessed but claimed he was an agent of the Holy Spirit, seeking to expose and root out the “evil and corruption”. An expert appointed by his lawyer suggested Gabriele was a victim of “restlessness, tension, rage and frustration”.
Gabriele’s case is being heard by three lay judges within the Vatican’s wood-panelled court and is likely to shed light on the secret world within the world’s smallest state. It is being held on a Saturday, because it is when the judges, who work in Italy’s court system, have a free day.
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