‘VatiLeaks’ trial will be landmark event for Vatican tribunal

Catholic News Service

By Cindy Wooden and Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For the Vatican’s criminal court, the trial of Paolo Gabriele and Claudio Sciarpelletti for their alleged part in leaking papal correspondence will be unusual and may lead the Vatican to invoke a never-used cooperation agreement with Italy.

Giovanni Giacobbe, promoter of justice in Court of Appeal of Vatican City State, explained to reporters Sept. 27 how the Vatican conducts a criminal trial. But he also admitted that such trials are “extremely” rare, and the only thing remotely similar was a trial for drug possession on Vatican property some 10 years ago.

If Gabriele and Sciarpelletti are found guilty and are sentenced to jail time, they would serve that time in an Italian prison under the terms of a decades-old Italian-Vatican agreement that has never been used, Giacobbe said. Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, was handed over to Italian police and found guilty in an Italian court, not a Vatican court.

Gabriele, who was arrested in May after Vatican police found papal correspondence and other items in his Vatican apartment, faces a charge of aggravated theft, which Giacobbe said carries a possible sentence of up to four years. Sciarpelletti, who had a copy of a document from Gabriele in his desk at the Vatican Secretariat of State, was charged with aiding and abetting Gabriele. He faces up to one year in prison.

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