Trial of Pope’s butler begins
Pope Benedict's butler, accused of using his access to the pope to steal papers that he thought would expose Vatican corruption, suffered a blow on the first day of his trial when judges refused to admit evidence from the Church's own investigation.
Paolo Gabriele's arrest in May, after police found confidential documents in his apartment inside the Vatican, not only threw a spotlight on allegations of malpractice but also pointed to a power struggle at the highest levels of the Church.
The 46-year-old former butler looked pale at his first public appearance since May, smiling as he chatted with his lawyer but often staring straight into space during a hearing that lasted just under two and a half hours.
Gabriele's lawyer, Cristiana Arru, had asked the court to allow as evidence the results of a separate investigation by a commission of cardinals who questioned a number of Vatican employees about the leaks of the documents to Italian media.
But the chief judge, sitting before a crucifix, rejected the request, saying the commission had been set up by the pope, and so its findings would be reserved for him.
Instead, trial evidence will be based solely on results of an investigation carried out by a Vatican prosecutor and Vatican police.
The court also decided to split off the case of Claudio Sciarpelletti, a Vatican computer expert charged with aiding and abetting Gabriele. Sciarpelletti, who was not present in court, will be tried separately.
Gabriele, an unassuming man who served the pope his meals and helped him dress, is expected to testify when the trial resumes on Tuesday.
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