Catholic World News

2nd 'Vatileaks' trial opens, offering new look inside Vatican

November 05, 2012

The trial of Claudio Sciarpelletti, the 2nd man accused of involvement in the “Vatileaks” scandal, opened in Rome on November 5.

In opening arguments Sciarpelletti’s lawyer, Gianluca Benedetti, downplayed his client’s ties with Paolo Gabriele, the former valet to Pope Benedict XVI, who has already been convicted for the theft of papal documents.

This week’s trial, being held before a Vatican tribunal, promises to offer new perspectives on the leaks of confidential documents. The Vatican has insisted that Gabriele acted alone in stealing the documents and making them available to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who published many of them in book form. But Vatican prosecutors say that Sciarpelletti helped with the leaks.

A key piece of evidence against Sciarpelletti is an envelope that investigators say they discovered in his desk, marked “Personal- Paolo Gabriele.” The envelope reportedly contained information that appeared in Nuzzi’s book. When questioned about the envelope, Sciarpelletti gave contradictory explanations, according to prosecutors, saying at first that Gabriele had given him the material for safekeeping, then that he had received the envelope from another Vatican official. Benedetti, the defendant’s lawyer, told the tribunal that his client gave inconsistent stories because he was flustered and confused by the investigators’ questions.

Benedetti told the tribunal that Sciarpelletti was not close friends with Gabriele, and did not conspire with him to steal the papal documents. He pointed out that Gabriele had kept information about the documents on his own personal computer, and refused to allow Vatican technicians to inspect that computer. Sciarpelletti, who was working as a computer technician at the Secretariat of State, could easily have erased any incriminating evidence, or given Gabriele a new computer, if he had been actively involved in a conspiracy, Benedetti reasoned. He concluded: “There was no complicity. If there was, a computer would have been substituted.”

The Vatican tribunal is expected to reach a decision on the Sciarpelletti case this week. Vatican journalists are eagerly awaiting the testimony of several expected witnesses, including Father Carlo Maria Polvani, an official at the Secretariat of State who supervised Sciarpelletti. Father Polvani is a nephew of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the current apostolic nuncio serving in the US, who was previously the secretary of the Vatican city-state governorate. A confidential letter from Archbishop Vigano to Pope Benedict XVI, complaining of corruption within the Vatican, leaked to the Italian media in January, inaugurating the “Vatileaks” furor.

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