Theft trial for papal butler starts next week

Sep 17, 2012, 2:06 PM

Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI’s ex-butler and another Vatican lay employee will go on trial next week in the embarrassing theft of papal documents that exposed alleged corruption at the Holy See’s highest levels.

Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre said Monday the first session would begin Saturday, Sept. 29.

Paolo Gabriele, who as butler in the papal apartments had served for several years as one of Benedict’s closest aides, is accused of grand theft. Claudio Sciarpelletti, who has been temporarily suspended from his post as a computer specialist in the Holy See office of secretariat of state, will be tried on a lesser charge, that of aiding and abetting the crime.

According to last month’s indictment, Gabriele, who is under house arrest in Vatican City and who was relieved of his post, said he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to take the documents to shed light on what he called evil in the church.

The documents, which have painted a picture of alleged infighting and corruption at the Vatican, were revealed in the Italian media this year after Gabriele allegedly passed them on.

The Vatican has promised a public trial by a three-judge panel but said no still or video cameras will be permitted.

Vatican officials say they are still looking into the possibility of other accomplices.

Conviction on the theft charge could bring up to six years in jail.

Besides allegedly pilfering the documents, Gabriele is also accused of taking a check for (EURO)100,000 (then about $125,000) made out to Benedict and donated by a Spanish Catholic university.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Theft trial for papal butler starts next week