BBC News Europe
03 October 2012
Paolo Gabriele (first from right) said he loved the Pope like a son
The former butler of Pope Benedict XVI kept documents that were considered top secret and were marked “to be destroyed”, his trial has heard.
Police officers told the Vatican court they had found “dozens” of papers about the Pope and the Vatican in Paolo Gabriele’s possession.
They also found a cheque for 100,000 euros (£80,000) made out to the Pope.
Mr Gabriele admits leaking papers to a journalist which revealed alleged corruption in the Holy See.
The landmark trial is due to end on Saturday, the Vatican has announced.
The officers said they also came across a small gold nugget and a rare old book in Mr Gabriele’s home.
Commenting on those items, Mr Gabriele said he was allowed to borrow books from work sometimes, and he denied any knowledge of the piece of gold.
As for the cheque, he said he might have simply scooped it up by mistake as he carted off documents from the Pope’s office, the BBC’s Alan Johnston reports.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi confirmed the trial would end on Saturday just hours before a major Vatican conference of the world’s bishops.
Mr Gabriele’s arrest and trial have proved embarrassing for the Vatican, correspondents say.
If convicted, he faces up to four years in an Italian prison but Pope Benedict is expected to grant a pardon.
The court has been under pressure to close the case rapidly, the BBC’s David Willey reports from Vatican City.
The Vatican butler was arrested in May, accused of passing papal correspondence to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose book His Holiness: The Secret Papers Of Pope Benedict XVI was published that month.
The last four witnesses called by the defence, the Vatican police officers, told the court they had removed more than 1,000 incriminating documents – including originals initialled by the Pope himself – from the butler’s home before his arrest.
“There are around 1,000 documents of interest including both photocopies and originals and some documents with the signature of the Holy Father,” said Inspector Silvano Carli.
Police officer Stefano De Santis told the court: “There were also documents in code. There were many more documents than were published in the book.
“There were dozens and dozens of documents about the Holy Father, the Secretariat of State and the other Congregations, about the total privacy and family life of the Holy Father.
“There were documents that were considered top secret and to be destroyed.”
Another officer who took part in the search, Luca Cintia, said: “Some of the documents were signed by the Holy Father and some were in code with ‘Destroy’ written on them.”
The police said they had also found other documents on issues ranging from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to Freemasonry, but these were not considered to be of interest to the inquiry.
When the police officers told the court they had received instructions to treat the accused and his family gently, Mr Gabriele smiled ironically, our correspondent notes.
On Tuesday, he told the court he had been maltreated by police after his arrest.
On Saturday, the hearing inside the small Vatican courtroom will begin with final arguments by the prosecution and the defence, after which Mr Gabriele will be asked to make a statement, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters.
The three judges will then retire to consider their verdict.
On Tuesday, Mr Gabriele insisted he was innocent of the charge of “aggravated theft”.
“I feel guilty of having betrayed the trust of the Holy Father, whom I love as a son would,” he added.
Mr Gabriele has complained of mistreatment after his arrest, saying the cell where he was kept for 53 days was so small he could not extend his arms, and the light was kept on permanently.
Since the trial began on Saturday, no TV cameras or recorders have been allowed inside the courtroom. Coverage of the trial is restricted to just eight journalists.
Vatileaks: Butler ‘stole papers Pope wanted destroyed’
Vatican police seized encrypted documents and confidential papers that the Pope had marked “to be destroyed” when they raided the apartment of his butler, a court heard on Wednesday.
The Belfast Telegraph
2:35PM BST 03 Oct 2012
By Nick Squires, Vatican City
Paolo Gabriele Photo: AP
By Nick Squires, Vatican City
2:35PM BST 03 Oct 2012
Officers from the Vatican Gendarmerie found thousands of papers when they raided Paolo Gabriele’s apartment on May 23, acting on suspicions that he was the mole who had leaked highly compromising material to an Italian investigative journalist, who published it in a book.
The massive haul showed that Mr Gabriele had a keen interest in secret services, espionage, the occult, scandals involving the Vatican bank and the P2, a shadowy Masonic lodge whose members included prominent Italian politicians.
The encoded documents were sent from the Vatican Secretariat of State to papal nuncios, or ambassadors, around the world.
Many of the documents bore the signature of Benedict XVI and shed light on his correspondence with cardinals and other senior figures in the Roman Catholic Church.
Some were originals while others had been photocopied by Mr Gabriele in his Vatican office.
“There were papers where the Holy Father had written ‘to be destroyed’ in German,” said Stefano De Santis, one of the gendarmes who took part in the search.
The vast stash of documents also referred to the death of “God’s banker”, Roberto Calvi, who was found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982.
Mr Gabriele, 46, had also downloaded from the internet instructions on how to mask his mobile phone number and how to send jpeg files by email.
Four Vatican gendarmes were cross-examined in the court on the third day of his trial for allegedly stealing compromising papers from the Pope’s apartments, where he worked.
They said they seized more than 50 boxes of evidence during their search, including many USB memory devices, two or three computers and an iPad.
One of the gendarmes, Inspector Silvano Carli, said Mr Gabriele had stashed “an infinity of documents” in the study and living room of the apartment he shared with his wife and children.
The most sensitive were “well-hidden” among the piles of material downloaded from the internet.
He said “more than a thousand” were of direct relevance to the investigation into the unprecedented thefts from the Pope’s apartments.
Another gendarme officer, Luca Cintia, denied accusations by Mr Gabriele that during his detention he had been mistreated and kept in a tiny cell with the lights turned on 24 hours a day.
“We treated him with kid gloves, so much so that he thanked us,” said the officer.
On Tuesday the judge in the trial ordered Vatican prosecutors to open an investigation into the accusations of abuse, which allegedly happened at the start of the butler’s 53 day detention without charge in the Gendarmerie’s barracks.
The judge adjourned the trial until Saturday, when it is expected to conclude — after a total of just four hearings.
A panel of three judges will hand down their verdict on Mr Gabriele, who is charged with “aggravated theft”, which carries a penalty of up to four years in jail.
The Vatican is understood to be anxious to finish the trial in time for the opening on Sunday of a gathering of 200 bishops from around the world.
The Synod, established by Pope Paul VI, meets every two to three years to advise the Pope on Church matters.
This year will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council — another reason why the Vatican is keen to draw a line under the butler’s trial.
Pope’s papers found in butler’s flat, say Vatican police
Papal documents on which Benedict XVI wrote ‘to be destroyed’ discovered at home of former butler Paolo Gabriele, court told
The Guardian guardian.co.uk,
Wednesday 3 October 2012 14.21 BST
Tom Kington in the Vatican City
Vatican police testifying at the trial of the pope’s former butler have told a court they found coded Vatican correspondence in his house alongside documents on which the pope wrote “to be destroyed” in German.
The four officers were giving evidence on the third day of Paolo Gabriele’s trial for stealing Pope Benedict XVI’s private letters, which detailed allegations of corruption at the Vatican, and leaking them to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who turned them into a bestselling book.
Police decided to search Gabriele’s Vatican apartment after noting that letters published in the book could only have been seen by someone close to the pontiff.
Officers told the Vatican court they entered the house on the afternoon of 23 May to find “tens of thousands” of documents packed into large cupboards in Gabriele’s living room and study.
Among the documents the police found during the search, which lasted until 11pm, were private documents about the pope’s inner circle, letters in code issued by the Vatican’s secretariate of state – as is custom when it writes to nuncios around the world – and letters signed by the Pope.
When one officer said documents were found with the phrase “to be destroyed” written in German – the language of Bavaria-born Benedict, Gabriele smiled.
The search turned up documents that had been published in Nuzzi’s book. “For us that was the first proof,” said Stefano de Santis.
Police from the tiny city state’s police force also recalled finding documents about masking mobile phone calls and a large number of computer USBs.
Police inspector Stefano Carli said there were more than 1,000 documents relevant to the investigation, and these were hidden among other documents, which a second officer said totalled tens of thousands.
Those documents, including newspaper clippings and internet downloads, concerned famous Italian criminal conspiracies, some which involved the Vatican, including the mysterious death of banker Roberto Calvi and the shadowy P2 masonic lodge, which counted senior Italian politicians in its ranks.
Other documents referred to mysticism, the Vatican bank, yoga, Silvio Berlusconi, Christianity, Buddhism and other religions.
Officers addressing the court took the chance to deny accusations made by Gabriele on Tuesday that he was held in a tiny cell with the light kept on 24 hours a day.
“Gabriele thanked us more than once for the way he and his family were treated,” said Luca Cintia, an officer who took part in the search. “He was treated with kid gloves.”
The case has placed the Vatican police in the spotlight since one of the chapters in Nuzzi’s book alleges corruption in its ranks.
Gabriele faces four years in prison for aggravated theft, but may benefit from a papal pardon. He denies the charge but had admitted photocopying private papal letters. A final summing up and verdict is expected at the next hearing on Saturday.
The pope’s former butler has lifted the lid on a secret world behind the Vatican walls during a dramatic cross examination as he stood trial for stealing and leaking the pontiff’s private letters.
In a surprise statement, Paolo Gabriele claimed innocence before three Vatican judges and accused Vatican police of mistreating him while in custody.
The 46-year-old father of three said that after his arrest in May he had been held for up to 20 days in isolation in a room so narrow he could not stretch out his arms, and where the lights were kept switched on 24 hours a day, damaging his vision.
He added that Vatican police had put him under psychological pressure, denying him pillows on his first night in custody.
Domenico Gianni, the head of the Vatican police, who attended the hearing, was left visibly blushing by the claim, which prompted the presiding judge, Giuseppe Dalla Torre, to order an inquiry.
After the hearing the city-state’s police force issued a statement saying Gabriele had asked for the light to be left on, had been allowed unlimited meetings with family and friends, and had been given pillows. After 20 days of incarceration he had been moved to a new cell which was being redecorated at the time of his arrest, the statement added.
Gabriele faces four years for leaking letters containing allegations of kickbacks and corruption at the Vatican to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who released them in a bestselling book this year.
Although he confessed to police after they found piles of letters in his apartment inside the Vatican, Gabriele said in court he was innocent of the charge of aggravated theft. “I feel guilty of having betrayed the trust of the holy father, whom I love as a son would,” said Gabriele, who is expected to receive a pardon from Benedict XVI.
The former butler did, however, describe how he brazenly took photocopies of sensitive letters in the office he shared with two papal secretaries. But he denied stealing a gold nugget donated to the pope and a €100,000 cheque made out to the pope, both of which were found in a shoe box in his apartment.
Gabriele has described himself to police as “an agent of the holy spirit”, seeking to lift the lid on Vatican sleaze that “scandalised” him, and to defend the pope. “At times the pope asked questions about things he should have been informed about,” he told the court.
The pope’s personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein, said he started suspecting a close papal aide of being the source of the leaks when letters that had not left his office were published.
Searching Gabriele’s apartment, the police found letters dating back to 2006. One officer giving evidence said some documents dealt with the Italian secret services and the masonry.
Gabriele denied he had been aided by accomplices, though he has told police he had been in contact with four senior Vatican figures when he was collecting documents, including a secretary, two cardinals and a bishop. A Vatican IT expert is due to stand trial for harbouring documents for him.
The trial continues on Wednesday and is expected to wrap up by the weekend before the pope convenes a synod of bishops in Rome on Sunday.
Pope’s butler says he’s innocent of theft, but guilty of betrayal
CTV National News: Butler admits partial guilt
02 October 2012
Pope Benedict XVI, left, arrives at the Italian air force 31st Squadron base in Ciampino, while his butler, Paolo Gabriele, right, carries bags, Monday, April 21, 2008. (AP / Domenico Stinellis)
The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 6:27AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 11:07AM EDT
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI’s onetime butler declared Tuesday he was innocent of a charge of aggravated theft of the pope’s private correspondence, but acknowledged he photocopied the papers and said he feels guilty that he betrayed the trust of the pontiff he loves like a father.
Paolo Gabriele took the stand Tuesday in a Vatican courtroom to defend himself against accusations of his role in one of the most damaging scandals of Benedict’s pontificate. Prosecutors say Gabriele stole papal letters and documents alleging power struggles and corruption inside the Vatican and leaked them to a journalist in an unprecedented papal security breach.
Gabriele faces four years in prison if he is found guilty, although most Vatican watchers expect he will receive a papal pardon if he is convicted.
Prosecutors have said Gabriele, 46, has confessed to leaking copies of the documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, because he wanted to expose the “evil and corruption” in the church. They quoted him as saying in a June 5 interrogation that even though he knew taking the documents was wrong, he felt inspired by the Holy Spirit “to bring the church back on the right track.”
Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre asked Gabriele on Tuesday if he stood by his confession. Gabriele responded: “Yes.”
Asked, though, by his attorney Cristiana Arru how he responded to the charge of aggravated theft, Gabriele said: “I declare myself innocent concerning the charge of aggravated theft. I feel guilty of having betrayed the trust of the Holy Father, whom I love as a son would.”
He insisted he had no accomplices, though he acknowledged that many people inside the Vatican, including cardinals, trusted him and would come to him with their problems and concerns. He said he felt inspired by his faith to always give them a listen.
He acknowledged he photocopied papal documentation, but insisted he did so in plain view of others and during daylight office hours, using the photocopier in the office he shared with the pope’s two private secretaries.
The trial opened over the weekend inside the intimate ground-floor tribunal in the Vatican’s courthouse tucked behind St. Peter’s Basilica. Dalla Torre has said he expects it to be over within three more hearings.
In addition to Gabriele, the court heard Tuesday from four witnesses, including the pope’s main private secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, who along with Gabriele was the closest assistant to the pontiff.
Gaenswein testified that he began having suspicions about Gabriele after he realized three documents that appeared in Nuzzi’s book could only have come from the office he shared with Gabriele and Benedict’s other private secretary.
“This was the moment when I started to have my doubts,” Gaenswein said.
The book, “His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVI’s private papers,” became an immediate blockbuster when it was published May 20, detailing intrigue and scandals inside the Apostolic Palace. The leaked documents seemed primarily aimed at discrediting Benedict’s No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, often criticized for perceived shortcomings in running the Vatican administration.
Gaenswein said as soon as he read the book, he immediately asked the pope’s permission to convene a meeting of the small papal family to ask each member if he or she had taken the documentation.
One member, Cristina Cernetti, one of the pope’s four housekeepers, told the court she knew immediately that Gabriele was to blame because she could exclude without a doubt any other member of the family.
In an indication of the respect Gabriele still feels for Gaenswein, he stood up from his bench when Gaenswein entered the courtroom and then again when he exited. Gaenswein didn’t acknowledge him.
The trial resumes Wednesday with the testimony of four members of the Vatican police force who conducted the search of Gabriele’s Vatican City apartment on May 23. In testimony Tuesday, two police officers said they discovered thousands of papers in Gabriele’s studio, some of them originals.
During the testimony, the lawyer Arru complained about the conditions under which Gabriele spent his first 20 days in detention, saying the cell was so small he couldn’t stretch out his arms and that lights were kept on 24 hours a day.
Gabriele said those conditions contributed to his “psychological depression.”
Dalla Torre invited the prosecutor to launch an investigation, which he did. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the size of the cell conformed to international standards and that, anyway, Gabriele was moved to a bigger cell.
The Vatican police responded quickly with a lengthy statement insisting that Gabriele’s rights had been respected, citing the food, free time, socializing, spiritual assistance and health care that Gabriele enjoyed during his nearly two months of detention. They said the lights were kept on for security reasons and to ensure Gabriele didn’t harm himself, and that he had a mask he could use to block out the light.
The police warned that they may file a counter complaint against Arru if the investigation shows no wrongdoing on their part.
The trial is being conducted according to the Vatican’s criminal code, which is adapted from the 19th-century Italian code. The court reporter doesn’t take down verbatim quotes, but rather records reconstructed summaries dictated to her by the court president, Dalla Torre.
On several occasions, Dalla Torre truncated the responses or, with the help of the notary and the prosecutor, reconstrued them, occasionally attributing to Gabriele and other witnesses words they didn’t necessarily utter, or leaving out parts of their testimony altogether. For example, the recorded summary of Gabriele’s plea didn’t include that he loved the pope as a son would.
The recorded testimony was read aloud to each witness for any corrections at the end. Gabriele was able to make corrections as each summary was recorded, but his full testimony was not read back to him at the end.