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Pope’s Butler Is Guilty; May Receive a Pardon

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – A three-judge panel of Vatican jurists found Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler, guilty of aggravated theft and sentenced him to 18 months in jail for his role in leaking private papal correspondence and other confidential documents.

The verdict was read Oct. 6 by Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the three-judge panel, just two hours after the fourth and final session of the trial.

Dalla Torre began reading the sentence with the formula, “In the name of His Holiness Benedict XVI, gloriously reigning, the tribunal, having invoked the Most Holy Trinity, pronounced the following sentence. …”

He then said the judges had found Gabriele guilty and sentenced him to three years in jail, but reduced the sentence for four reasons: Gabriele had never been convicted of a crime before; the value of his previous service to the Vatican; the fact that he was convinced, “although erroneously,” of having acted for the good of the Church; and his declaration that he was aware of “betraying the Holy Father’s trust.”

The reading of the verdict and sentence took less than five minutes. Gabriele showed no emotion as the verdict was read, and afterward Vatican police led him to a side room while others exited the courtroom.

His lawyer, Cristiana Arru, said they would take him back to his Vatican apartment under house arrest. The defense has three days to inform the court if it intends to appeal.

“It’s a good sentence, a balanced sentence,” she told reporters. She said she and Gabriele had made no decision about the appeal.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Pope Benedict was informed of the results of the trial immediately and was studying the matter. Father Lombardi said he believed it was likely the pope would pardon Gabriele, although he had no idea when that would occur.

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