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Vatican computer tech convicted in leaks scandal

Associated Press Modified: November 10, 2012 at 11:32 am •  Published: November 10, 2012

Both sides in the Sciarpelletti case have three days to appeal. Defense lawyer Gianluca Benedetti indicated that he would appeal.

Vatican investigators found the sealed envelope addressed to "P.Gabriele" and containing documents in Sciarpelletti's office desk. The prosecutor himself confirmed Benedetti's assertion that the envelope held documents "irrelevant, of zero value."

Gabriele, in court this time as a witness, described himself as a friend of the computer technician. During his own trial, the butler said he was concerned that Benedict wasn't being informed of the "evil and corruption" in the Vatican.

Gabriele testified he would give Sciarpelletti "many things" he had read on the Internet, along with copies of the pope's speeches and church teachings, but contended he never gave him official documents.

Sciarpelletti testified he never opened the envelope given to him 2 ½ years ago and insisted his statements to investigators were confused because of the "great panic" and "moral shock" he felt after being arrested and held in a Vatican cell for a day in May. He also said that it is difficult to remember what he did nearly three years earlier, including who gave him the documents.

At one point, early in the probe, the computer expert told Vatican investigators the envelope was given him by his boss, Monsignor Carlo Maria Polvani, who is a nephew of the current Vatican ambassador to Washington. The diplomat, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, was the No. 2 administrator at the Holy See until being posted in Washington earlier this year.

In one of the letters leaked in the probe, Vigano pleaded with Benedict not to be transferred after exposing alleged corruption in the awarding of Vatican contracts that cost the Holy See millions of euros (dollars).

Polvani told the court he "never transferred any document protected by official secret" to Gabriele. "I swear on (my) baptism and priesthood that I never" did such a thing, the monsignor testified.

At one point Saturday, the usual formal atmosphere of the Vatican courtroom was interrupted by a bit of humor. When a court employee who was writing summaries of the testimony on a laptop complained of computer problems, Sciarpelletti offered his services, asking the judge: "Do you need a technician?"

The courtroom rippled with chuckles, but his help wasn't needed. It turned out there was a problem with a plug, which was quickly resolved.