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Police: Papal butler had important papers

Oct. 3, 2012 at 1:34 PM   |   Comments

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VATICAN CITY, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The 82 boxes of material seized from Pope Benedict XVI's former butler included 1,000 documents "of interest," investigators told a Vatican court Wednesday.

Paolo Gabriele is on trial for allegedly leaking confidential information to an investigative reporter. Four Vatican police officers said it took them eight hours to go through the documents and material in his apartment, CNN said.

Officer Silvano Carli said "more than 1,000, both original and photocopies, were of interest." Some of the original documents were marked "for destruction."

The officers said important papers were mixed in with trivial ones in what could have been an effort to conceal them.

Also Wednesday, the Vatican denied Gabriele's allegation that he was mistreated after his arrest. Gabriele testified Tuesday his jail cell was so cramped he couldn't extend his arms and that the light was never turned off during his first 20 days of detention before he was transferred to a larger cell, the Italian news agency ASNA reported.

Vatican custody chief Luca Cintia said Wednesday during Gabriele's trial the ex-butler was treated with "kid gloves" and even "thanked us more than once for his treatment."

Gabriele, 46, a father of three, testified he stood by his June 5 police confession of leaking copies of sensitive papers to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi because he wanted to show the pope the church's "evil and corruption."

Court adjourned until Saturday, when closing arguments are scheduled and Gabriele is expected to be found guilty of stealing secret church documents and leaking them to the media.

Gabriele pleaded innocent to stealing documents but admitted to leaking information, saying he wasn't the only one to do so in recent years. The leaked documents included letters to the pontiff and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from the Vatican's ambassador in Washington that contained allegations of corruption in the management of Vatican City.

If convicted, Gabriele faces four years in prison. ANSA said it is widely believed the pope will pardon Gabriele if he is found guilty.

Some Vatican observers also indicated they thought Gabriele was being made a scapegoat and had fallen victim to a power struggle among cardinals.

When Gabriele, who worked at the Vatican for 20 years, was asked by his attorney, Cristiana Arru, for his response to the charge of aggravated theft, Gabriele declared himself "innocent."

"I feel guilty of having betrayed the trust of the Holy Father" by making and leaking the material, he said.

He told police he knew copying the letters was wrong but said he was divinely inspired "to bring the church back on the right track."

He said he had to expose the alleged corruption because Benedict "was not correctly informed" about what was going on.

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