After papal butler conviction, new "Vatileaks" trial to start

Sun Nov 4, 2012 7:44am EST
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A Vatican computer expert goes before a court on Monday in a trial that could shed light on whether Pope Benedict's former butler acted alone in leaking sensitive documents or was a pawn in a bigger power struggle.

Claudio Sciarpelletti is accused of aiding and abetting the butler, Paolo Gabriele, who in October was sentenced to 18 months in jail for aggravated theft.

Sciarpelletti, 48, spent one night in a Vatican jail cell on May 25, two days after Gabriele was arrested when police searched his home and found many copies of papal documents, some alleging infighting in the papal court and corruption at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church.

Gabriele, one of the pope's closest household assistants, admitted leaking the documents to the media in what he said was an attempt to help disclose corruption and "evil" in the headquarters of the 1.2 billion-member faith.

Vatican officials, eager to put the embarrassing episode behind them, say Sciarpelletti's role was marginal and expect the trial, in the same small court room, to be speedier than that of the ex butler, which lasted only four sessions.

When Vatican police searched Sciarpelletti's desk in the Secretariat of State - the nerve center of the Holy See's administration - they found a closed envelope addressed to Gabriele and marked "personal".

It contained documentation relating to a chapter in a book about Vatican corruption and intrigue written by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who received confidential documents from Gabriele.

In four sessions of questioning in May and June, Sciarpelletti provided "wavering and contradictory" answers, according to a court indictment.   Continued...