Vatican City: A Vatican computer technician will go on trial on November 5 on charges of helping the pope’s former butler steal secret papers, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Tuesday.
Claudio Sciarpelletti’s trial follows the conviction of ex-butler Paolo Gabriele, who was found guilty of stealing papers which revealed fraud scandals and intrigue at the heart of the Vatican, and sentenced to 18 months in jail.
The 48-year-old technician was arrested on May 25 as the Vatican investigation into the leaks unfolded, but was released the following day.
He was initially due to stand in the dock with Gabriele in earlier October, but was granted a separate trial. His alleged role in stealing and leaking the memos is considered “rather marginal” by the judiciary, Lombardi said.
His trial is likely to be even shorter than Gabriele’s, the spokesman added.
Gabriele spent months under house arrest but his trial in the so-called Vatileaks scandal lasted a week.
An envelope containing stolen documents and addressed to Gabriele was found in Sciarpelletti’s desk within the walls of the tiny state. He has claimed ignorance, insisting he had forgotten it was there and never opened it.
The technician has also admitted, however, that two people gave him envelopes containing documents to pass on to the butler.
The relationship between the two is unclear. While Gabriele insists they were friends, Sciarpelletti says they were nothing more than acquaintances.
The trial could reveal interesting elements regarding five witnesses — or possible accomplices — whose names have been blacked out and replaced with letters of the alphabet in court documents.
Meanwhile, the Vatican tribunal that convicted the pope’s ex-butler of stealing private papal correspondence sharply condemned the theft on Tuesday, saying it harmed the pope, the Holy See and the entire Catholic Church.
The three-judge tribunal issued its written explanation of how it reached its October 6 ruling against Paolo Gabriele, who was convicted of aggravated theft and sentenced to 18 months, currently being served under house arrest.
Noting what they called Gabriele’s “simplistic” intellectual capacity, the judges acknowledged that Gabriele thought he was doing the right thing by leaking the documents. But they said his theft damaged the pope himself and the rights of the Holy See, the Vatican City state and the entire Catholic Church.
“In particular, Gabriele’s actions violated not just the fundamental right to a good name and reserve owed all involved, but also the secrecy of actions owed to a sovereign,” the judges wrote.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said prosecutors have a few more days to decide whether or not to appeal the sentence. Gabriele’s attorney has already decided not to appeal.
Once the deadline passes, Gabriele will begin serving his sentence. Previously the Vatican had said he would serve it in an Italian prison, given the Vatican doesn’t have a long-term detention facility. But Lombardi said on Tuesday he would serve it in the Vatican, where he spent the first two months of detention after his May 23 arrest.
– AFP and AP