Vatican: IT man denies frequent contact

2012-11-05 21:12
Pope Benedict XVI's butler Paolo Gabriele, right, carries the pontiff's bags as they arrive at Ciampino military airport in Rome. (File, AP)

Pope Benedict XVI's butler Paolo Gabriele, right, carries the pontiff's bags as they arrive at Ciampino military airport in Rome. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Vatican City - A Vatican computer technician accused of helping Pope Benedict XVI's former butler leak secret memos denied "frequent contact" with his alleged accomplice at the start of his trial on Monday.

Claudio Sciarpelletti attended the first hearing in the tiny state's 19th-century courtroom, where it emerged that Vatican police had been tipped off to his links with disgraced ex-butler Paolo Gabriele by an anonymous note.

The 48-year-old is accused of aiding and abetting Gabriele, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail last month after he admitted leaking papers alleging corruption and Machiavellian politics in the Vatican.

"It all began with an anonymous note from an official in the Vatican's Secretary of State, who spoke of frequent meetings between Gabriele and Sciarpelletti," the technician's lawyer Gianluca Benedetti told the court.

Denied claims

Benedetti denied the allegation and said that Sciarpelletti did not have "a close friendship [and] frequent contact" with Gabriele.

Sciarpelletti faces a possible sentence of up to one year in prison.

Gabriele - now serving time in a holding cell within the Vatican - is expected to take the stand to testify to their close friendship.

But Sciarpelletti has insisted they were no more than acquaintances.

In a hearing mainly taken up with technical issues, Benedetti's request that the charges against his client be dropped was refused.

He also said his client had been in "an emotional state" when he gave contradictory accounts to police.
The next hearing was scheduled for Saturday, and it may be the last, as the Vatican rushes to wind up the embarrassing and damaging months-long scandal.

Suspicious envelope


The technician was arrested on 25 May as the investigation into the leaks unfolded but only spent one night in a Vatican cell before being released.

A search by Vatican police unearthed a suspicious envelope addressed to Gabriele in Sciarpelletti's desk.

In it, they found photocopies of memos published by Italian investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi in his book "His Holiness", which collected letters depicting intrigue and infighting inside the Vatican.

The book touched on everything from fraud allegations to sex abuse scandals.

Called to account, Sciarpelletti's testimony was confused and contradictory.

"X" and "W"

He said Gabriele had given him the envelope because he wanted his opinion on the contents, but that he had never opened it and had forgotten it was there.

He later said it was someone else entirely that had given him the envelope - a person identified in court documents only by the letter "W".

He also talked about a second envelope, given to him by a certain "X".

He was initially accused of giving false testimony, conspiracy to commit aggravated theft, aiding a thief and violating office secrets.

Reduced charges


But the Vatican later reduced the charges, saying his alleged role in the leaks is "marginal" and that he faces only a light sentence if convicted after a trial likely to be shorter than Gabriele's, which lasted a week.

Witnesses expected to be called include William Kloter, deputy commander of the Swiss Guard and Sciarpelletti's superior, Carlo Maria Polvani.

Monsignor Polvani is the nephew of Carlo Maria Vigano, formerly the Vatican's top administrator, who had written letters to the pope which were later leaked alleging corruption in the Holy See.

Religious watchers hope Sciarpelletti's turn in the dock will shed light on issues left hanging by the butler's trial - one of the most pressing being whether Gabriele really did act alone, as he claims.

NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

 
 

Men24.com

And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette
Pro-skater Tony Hawk rides a hoverboard!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

“To infinity and beyond”….. As the Sun and the Moon move into Sagittarius you are able to let go of the emotional intensity of the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.