Vatican computer expert convicted in papal butler case

Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:14pm EST
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A Vatican court on Saturday found a Holy See computer expert guilty of obstruction of justice in the investigation of leaks of sensitive papal documents to the media by Pope Benedict's former butler.

But after two lightning trials in the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal that has been a major embarrassment for the Vatican, many questions remained unanswered.

The same court which last month convicted Paolo Gabriele, the Pope's former butler, gave Claudio Sciarpelletti a two-month suspended sentence. It ruled he "helped obstruct" the investigation by changing his version of events several times under police questioning.

The leaks unleashed one of the biggest crises of Pope Benedict's papacy, hitting the Vatican at a time when it was struggling to overcome several child sex abuse scandals involving clerics, as well as mismanagement at its bank.

Vatican watchers are skeptical Gabriele could have acted alone, suggesting he may have been forced to take the blame in order to shield bigger players inside the Holy See.

They say both men could be pawns in a palace power struggle.

Gabriele's trial lasted only four sessions and Sciarpelletti's only two sessions. Both concentrated on the leaks of the documents and neither delved into the core issue of the alleged corruption mentioned in the leaked documents.

Sciarpelletti's sentence was reduced from four to two months because he had no criminal record and suspended because of his long service with the Vatican.   Continued...

A general view of St. Peter's square as Pope Benedict XVI conducts a special mass in Vatican City in this October 21, 2012 file photograph. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini /Files