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Vatican trial: The butler did it, but did the IT guy help?

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Sciarpelletti and Gabriele could not therefore have been great friends, much less accomplices, he argued, if Gabriele had not even trusted him to look at his computer.

"Do you think my client would have risked a record that included 20 years of faithful service in the Vatican to help someone who was not even a great friend," Benedetti asked the court. The court allowed Sciarpelleti's employment record to be entered as evidence.

Sciarpelletti fidgeted nervously during the two-hour hearing, often rubbing his hands and looking at the floor.

Pawns in a bigger game

Many Vatican watchers are sceptical that Gabriele could have acted alone, suggesting he may have been forced to take the blame in order to shield bigger players inside the Holy See. They say both men could be pawns in a palace power struggle.

Vatican officials say Sciarpelletti's role in the leaks scandal was marginal and expect the trial, which is being held in the same small court room, to be speedier than that of the butler, which lasted only four sessions.

After preliminary arguments, Sciarpelletti's trial was adjourned until Saturday to allow the defence team to study the minutes of the Gabriele trial.

Sciarpelletti spent one night in a Vatican jail cell on May 25, two days after Gabriele was arrested when police searched the ex butler's home and found many copies of papal documents, some alleging infighting in the papal court and corruption at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church.

When Vatican police searched Sciarpelletti's desk in the Secretariat of State – the nerve centre of the Holy See's administration – they found a closed envelope addressed to Gabriele marked "personal."

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