6 Nov 2012

Vatican technican on trial over leaks

9:03 am on 6 November 2012

A former computer technician is on trial in the Vatican City charged with aiding and abetting the Pope's former butler in stealing papal documents.

Claudio Sciarpelletti, 48, is accused of helping Paolo Gabriele leak confidential documents while working in the Secretariat of State at the Vatican.

Mr Sciarpelletti's lawyer argued that his client has no case to answer and the trial should be dropped.

The BBC reports Gabriele was given a sentence of 18 months in prison by the same court last month. He admitted passing documents to a journalist, but said he did it out of love for the church and the Pope.

He is serving his sentence in a special detention room inside the Vatican's police station, amid talk that he may be pardoned by Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr Sciarpelletti handled secret communications in the Vatican's Secretariat of State.

His lawyer said an anonymous tip-off led Vatican police to search Mr Sciarpelletti's desk last May - finding an envelope addressed to Gabriele containing copies of sensitive documentation that had been leaked to the Italian media.

The Vatican has since said he played a "marginal" role in the scandal.

However, the judge refused a request to drop the trial and said the next hearing would be scheduled for Saturday.

The BBC reports much of the stolen information ended up in a book by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi about corruption, scandals and infighting at the Vatican.

Gabriele confessed to taking the papers, but said he believed the Pope was being manipulated, and that he hoped to reveal corruption at the Vatican.

The BBC reports press access to the trial is limited. No TV cameras were allowed in court.