TICKER: #JustIn: Pope’s butler convicted in papal leaks case; sentenced to 18 months in prison

Judges in the “Vatileaks” case also ordered him to pay legal expenses for the trial.

Vatican prosecutors had asked for a three year prison sentence for Paolo Gabriele, 46, who amassed a huge collection of stolen papal documents in his grace-and-favour apartment within the walls of the city state.

The judges said they had handed down a lesser sentence after taking into account “mitigating circumstances”.

The sentence was read out two hours after Mr Gabriele, 46, gave a final address to the tribunal at the end of his week-long trial, insisting that he was not a thief.

“The thing that I feel strongly in me is the conviction that I acted only out of visceral love for the Church of Christ and for its visible head (the Pope),” the father of three told the court.

“I do not feel like I’m a thief”.

His defence lawyer had asked for the court to throw out the charge of aggravated theft and to downgrade it to a lesser charge, that of “misappropriation” of the documents.

Cristina Arru argued that Mr Gabriele had simply photocopied the documents in the Pope’s offices, and had not physically removed them.

The lawyer said he had leaked the papers out of a desire to “do good and not to damage the Church.”

But Vatican gendarmes and the Pope’s private secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein, told the court earlier this week that among the 82 boxes of evidence that they seized from the butler’s Vatican apartment in May there were original documents.

Some of them were so sensitive that they had been marked by Benedict, in German, “to be destroyed”.

The documents revealed intrigue, infighting and allegations of corruption and nepotism at the heart of the Holy See, in one of the biggest scandals to hit the Vatican for years.

Mr Gabriele handed the documents to an Italian journalist who published them in May in a sensational book which lifted the lid on feuds within the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

The entire trial consisted of just four hearings, spanning a week, which together lasted less than 10 hours.

UK Telegraph

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