Pope’s butler to take witness stand for Vatileaks

Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler who has been accused of the theft of confidential documents from the papal apartment, will take the witness stand on Tuesday.

During Saturday’s start of the trial, the Vatican tribunal said Gabriele’s trial will be separate from that of Claudio Sciarpelletti who was charged for allegedly aiding and abetting Gabriele in the so-called Vatileaks scandal.

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, the presiding judge, said four more sessions “next week should be sufficient” for completing Gabriele’s trial.

Although under Vatican law a defendant is not obliged to appear in person, Gabriele was present in the courtroom on Saturday.

Sciarpelletti, a computer technician in the Vatican Secretariat of State, was represented by his lawyer.

The trial’s first session lasted two and a half hours, which included an 80-minute break during which the judges went behind closed doors to consider the motions and objections made by the defense lawyers.

Eight witnesses will be called to testify in Gabriele’s trial and five are set to be called for Sciarpelletti’s case.

The Gabriele witness list includes six Vatican police officers, as well as Msgr. Ganswein and Cristina Cernetti, one of the consecrated laywomen who work in the papal household. Neither of them was present in the courtroom.

Gabriele has already admitted his guilt, acknowledging that he passed documents to Gianluigi Nuzzi, author of the book His Holiness: the Secret Papers of Benedict XVI. Published last May, the book portrays a Holy See driven by internecine rivalry, political manoeuvres and occasional corruption.

Gabriele has always said he acted for the good of the Catholic Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit and with a mission to expose “evil and corruption”. Many observers wonder if he acted alone or on behalf of some senior Holy See figure, however.

Presiding judge Giuseppe della Torre suggested on Saturday that the trial might be concluded this week, after four more hearings. If found guilty, Gabriele faces up to four years in prison. Many believe, however, that he will eventually be pardoned by the pope.


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