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Pope's butler, 'accomplice' must stand trial in 'Vatileaks' scandal

Published on Aug 13, 2012 7:18 PM
The Pope's butler Paolo Gabriele (bottom) arrives with Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Square in Vatican, in this May 23, 2012 file photo. Pope Benedict's former butler, who was arrested two months ago in an investigation of leaks of documents alleging corruption in the Vatican, has written to the pontiff asking for forgiveness, his lawyer said on July 24, 2012. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI's former butler and another Vatican employee must stand trial for stealing and leaking confidential papers in the latest scandal to afflict the Catholic Church, a magistrate ruled on Monday.

Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested in May on suspicion of stealing secret documents from the pope's office and leaking them to journalists, is accused of "aggravated theft." Judge Piero Bonnet also charged Claudio Sciarpelletti, an analyst and programmer in the Vatican state secretariat, with complicity.

Sciarpelletti's name had not been disclosed before. Gabriele risks up to six years in prison. The Vatican has said the trial will not take place until October at the earliest.

The 46-year-old butler was arrested during an investigation into the leak of private papal documents to the media. He was held for 53 days in a Vatican cell before being put under house arrest in July to await the judge's decision. The Vatican said after his arrest it had found documents and copying equipment in Gabriele's home, revelations which shocked the close-knit Holy See community and saddened the aged pontiff.