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Pope's valet, 2nd man indicted in 'Vatileaks' case

Catholic World News - August 13, 2012

Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s valet, has been formally indicted for aggravated theft in connection with the release of confidential papal documents. Another Italian layman was also indicted as an accomplice.

Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer analyst employed by the Vatican Secretariat of State, was charged with “aiding and abetting” Gabriele. According to Father Federico Lombardi, the papal spokesman, Sciarpelleti played a minor role in the leaks.

Sciarpelletti’s name was disclosed for the first time in the report issued August 13. Previously Vatican officials had said that no one other than Gabriele was a target for prosecution. However, Vatican officials evidently do not consider Sciarpelletti a major figure in the “Vatileaks” investigation. Although he has been suspended from his job at the Secretariat of State, he continues to receive his salary.

The 35-page report presented by the investigating magistrate, Piero Bonnet, did not name any other Vatican officials in connection with the leaks. However, prosecutor Nicola Picardi said that an investigation continues. “We don’t think we have finished our work,” he said. The investigation could focus on other Vatican officials who may have encouraged Gabriele to release the papal correspondence, or helped him to make connections with Italian journalists who released the documents.

Gabriele apparently stole, copied, and passed along confidential papal correspondence in a bid to expose what he saw as corruption within the Vatican. His lawyer has indicated that Gabriele was motivated by loyalty to Pope Benedict, and thought the Pope had not been adequately informed about the corruption. The indictment says that Gabriele was in possession of not only papal documents, but a few gifts that had been sent to the Pontiff, including a gold nugget.

When he was first arrested in May, Gabriele denied involvement with the leaks, and told the Pope’s private secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein, that he was being treated as a scapegoat for the Vatileaks scandal. However, he later admitted his role. His lawyer insists that Gabriele acted alone. Pope Benedict will not involve himself with the trial of Gabriele, Father Lombardi said, adding that the Pope shares the determination of Vatican prosecutors to have "complete transparency" in the process. "The Pope clearly intends to respect the work of the magistrates and its outcome," the papal spokesman said.

If he is convicted, Gabriele could face a prison sentence of up to 6 years, which would be served in an Italian jail until the terms of agreements between the Vatican and the Italian government.

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