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Vatican tribunal publishes verdict against Vatileaks' convict Gabriele

Catholic World News - October 23, 2012

The Vatican has published the full verdict of a Vatican tribunal that found Paolo Gabriele guilty of aggravated thefit in the “Vatileaks” scandal.

The tribunal found that Gabriele, the former valet to Pope Benedict XVI, had been motivated by a desire to help the Pope, and not for personal gain. But Gabriele had betrayed the Pontiff by stealing private documents, the tribunal said. A psychiatric appraisal had found Gabriele capable of understanding his own actions and their consequences, and the defendant had said that he was solely responsible for the leaks of Vatican documents.

In an October 23 briefing on the sentence, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the tribunal’s judgment was focused exclusively on Gabriele’s theft of papal documents. The panel did not take into account other items found in Gabriele’s possession, including a nugget of gold and a check made out to the Holy Father. Father Lombardi revealed that questions had been raised about the search that uncovered those items, and so the tribunal did not pursue those issues.

Gabriele has remained under house arrest since his conviction on October 6. Following the formal publication of the tribunal’s sentence against him, the Vatican prosecutor now has a few days to decide whether or not to appeal the sentence, possibly asking for a stiffer punishment. (Gabriele’s lawyer has already indicated that the defense will not appeal the verdict or the 18-month prison sentence.) Assuming that the prosecutor also decides against an appeal, Gabriele’s prison term will then formally begin.

Father Lombardi disclosed that Gabriele will serve his term in a Vatican facility. Previously, Vatican officials had said that the former valet would be confined in an Italian prison, since the Vatican does not have provisions for long-term confinement of convicts. But the papal spokesman said that “there was no relevant convention with the Italian state” to cover this case.

The question of where the prison term would be served may soon be moot, since Pope Benedict XVI is expected to pardon Gabriele.

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