Papal pardon expected for butler after conviction

Associated Press Modified: October 6, 2012 at 10:31 am •  Published: October 6, 2012

In something of a novelty in jurisprudence, the pope was both victim and supreme judge in this case. As an absolute monarch of the tiny Vatican City state, Benedict wields full executive, legislative and judicial power. He delegates that power, though, and Lombardi said the trial showed the complete independence of the Vatican judiciary.

In reading the sentence, however, in a courtroom decorated with a photograph of Benedict on the wall opposite the man who betrayed him, Dalla Torre began: "In the name of His Holiness Benedict XVI, gloriously reigning, the tribunal invoking the Holy Trinity pronounces the following sentence ..."

In her closing arguments, Arru insisted that only photocopies, not original documents, were taken from the Apostolic Palace, disputing testimony from the pope's secretary who said he saw original letters in the evidence seized from Gabriele's home.

She admitted Gabriele's gesture was "condemnable," but said it was a misappropriation of documents, not theft, and that as a result Gabriele should serve no time for the lesser crime. She also sharply criticized the Vatican for publicly releasing the indictment, since it included elements of Gabriele's psychiatric evaluation. She said the publication violated her client's dignity.

With the trial over, several questions still remain about the leaks, most importantly whether Gabriele acted alone.

In his testimony this week, Gabriele insisted "in the most absolute way" that he had no accomplices.

But in earlier statements to prosecutors, he named a half dozen people including cardinals and monsignors with whom he spoke and said he received "suggestions" from the general environment in which he lived. He even identified one layman as the source of a segment of Nuzzi's book detailing some conflicts of interest of some Vatican police officers.

But in his closing arguments, prosecutor Nicola Picardi said the investigation turned up no proof of any complicity in Gabriele's plot. "Suggestions aren't proof of the presence of accomplices," he said.

However, Nuzzi wasn't the only one to publish leaked Vatican material this year. Italian newspapers were filled with leaked Vatican memos earlier in the year, many of them concerning the Vatican's efforts to comply with international financial transparency norms. None of those leaks were mentioned in the trial, and based on the contents, they came from sources other than the papal apartment.

There is another suspect in the case: Claudio Sciarpelletti, a 48-year-old computer expert in the Vatican secretariat of state who is charged with aiding and abetting the crime. Police say they found an envelope in his desk that said "Personal P. Gabriele" on it, with documentation inside.

Sciarpelletti has said Gabriele gave him the envelope, and later, that someone identified in court documents as "W'' gave it to him to pass onto Gabriele.

Sciarpelletti's lawyer successfully got his case separated out at the start of Gabriele's trial. But attorney Gianluca Benedetti has said his client was innocent and that, regardless, there were no "reserved documents" in the envelope.


Follow Nicole Winfield at