Pope's butler held for another 'few days'

2012-07-12 17:30
Pope Benedict XVI and his butler Paolo Gabriele.  (AFP)

Pope Benedict XVI and his butler Paolo Gabriele. (AFP)

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Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI's butler will be held in a Vatican cell "for a few days" longer, the Vatican's spokesperson said on Thursday, as an inquiry into his role in leaking confidential papers continues.

Paolo Gabriele was arrested on 23 May and an initial 50-day detention order expired on Thursday. The Vatican can hold him for a maximum of 50 days more.

The judge "still needs to collect some statements and this will happen in the next few days," Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said.

Lombardi said Gabriele would have one last formal interrogation within the next 10 days before this first phase of the investigation is concluded.

A judge will then decide whether or not to release him pending trial.

Asked about Gabriele's health after rumours on his depression, Lombardi said his lawyer had found him "calm and drawing comfort from prayer".

Outcome uncertain

Gabriele, who was arrested on 23 May, is accused of stealing documents from the papal chambers, copying them and passing them on to a journalist.

He risks up to six years in prison but could also be pardoned by the pope.

The documents revealed an atmosphere of intrigue at the Vatican and a series of accounting scandals but focused mainly on growing criticism within the Vatican of the Holy See's powerful secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone.

A special committee of cardinals carrying out an investigation into the leaks has questioned a total of 28 lay people and clerics and is due to deliver a report on their findings to the pope by the end of the months.

If it goes ahead, a trial would not take place until October at the earliest, Lombardi said earlier.

Read more on:    pope benedict xvi  |  vatican city
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