May 25, 2013
Judgment looms for butler who leaked papal papers
A trial that has thrown open the window on a betrayal of trust and sensitive secrets in the Vatican will come to a head on Saturday with final arguments before judges deliver their verdict on Pope Benedict's former butler.
The so-called "Vatileaks" trial, which began last Saturday, is due to wind up after only four hearings when the prosecution and defence make closing arguments on Saturday morning.
Paolo Gabriele, 46, who has been tried under a 19th-century Italian penal code, will be given the chance to have the last say before the three-judge panel retires to deliberate behind closed doors.
A former member of the small, select group known as "the papal family", and one of fewer than 10 people who had a key to an elevator leading directly to the pope's apartments, Gabriele faces up to four years in prison if he is convicted, as is expected. He would serve out the sentence in an Italian jail because the Vatican has no such facility.
In the course of the trial, intimate details emerged of the inner workings of an institution long renowned for its secrecy.
Gabriele, who is charged with aggravated theft, has admitted being the source of leaks of highly sensitive papers, including letters to the pope that alleged corruption in the Vatican's business dealings.
The documents constituted one of the biggest crises of Pope Benedict's papacy when they emerged in a muckraking expose by an Italian journalist earlier this year.
The case has been an embarrassment for the Vatican, coming at a time when it was keen to rid itself from the taint left by a series of scandals involving sexual abuse of minors by clerics around the world and mismanagement at its bank.