tuesday, 6 november of 2012

Vatileaks: technician denies friendship with pope´s butler


Technician denies friendship with pope's butler

A computer technician charged with helping the Pope's former butler in stealing confidential documents was not a close friend, denying he had frequent contact with his alleged accomplice, a court has heard.

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

Mr Sciarpelletti went on trial before three judges at the Vatican on Monday in the latest chapter of the so-called Vatileaks scandal which has shaken the highest levels of the Catholic Church.

The accused appeared for the first time in the same tiny Vatican courtroom where Gabriele was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month after being found guilty of aggravated theft.

Mr Sciarpelletti, who was tense throughout the hearing, nodded across the courtroom at Gabriele who was released from his detention room inside the Vatican after being called as a witness in the case.

On Monday Sciarpelletti's lawyer Gianluca Benedetti raised questions about their alleged friendship saying the butler had never asked Sciarpelletti to replace his computer despite his colleague's technical responsibilities at the Vatican.

"How could they be such close friends?" Mr Benedetti asked the court.

"There was no great friendship." Mr Benedetti has said his client is innocent and insisted that there were no confidential documents in a sealed envelope that Vatican police claimed to have found in Sciarpelletti's desk.

The trial was expected to shed light on whether the pair acted alone or were part of a broader political struggle within the Catholic Church.

But Monday's hearing was adjourned until Saturday after only two hours of legal argument amid speculation it may conclude on Saturday.

Vatican prosecutors had originally sought indictment of Sciarpelletti on charges of revealing secrets and grand theft. But a Vatican judge denied that request, ordering trial only on the lesser charge of aiding and abetting.

As in Gabriele's trial, no video, audio or still camera coverage is allowed for this latest trial.

(Published by The Telegraph - November 5, 2012)

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