The popes butler was convicted Saturday of stealing the popes private documents and leaking them to a journalist,and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre read the verdict aloud Saturday two hours after the three-judge panel began deliberating Paolo Gabrieles fate. He said the sentence was reduced to 18 months from three years because of a series of mitigating circumstances,including that Gabriele had no previous record.
In his final appeal to the court,Gabriele insisted I dont feel like a thief and said he leaked the popes private correspondence to a journalist out of a visceral love for the church and the pope.
In the courtroom was Gabrieles father. It was the first time a family member has attended his weeklong trial.
Gabriele is accused of stealing the popes private correspondence and passing it on to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi,whose book revealed the intrigue,petty infighting and allegations of corruption and homosexual liaisons that plague the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.
The book,His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVIs Secret Papers has convulsed the Vatican for months and prompted an unprecedented response,with the pope naming a commission of cardinals to investigate the origin of the leaks alongside Vatican magistrates.
In her closing arguments,defense attorney Cristiana Arru insisted that only photocopies,not original documents,were taken from the Apostolic Palace,disputing testimony from the popes secretary who said he saw original letters in the evidence seized from Gabrieles home.
She admitted Gabrieles gesture was condemnable but said it was a misappropriation of documents,not theft,and that,as a result,Gabriele should serve no time for the lesser crime.
Its not clear where Gabriele will serve his sentence or if he will be sent back to jail. He has been held on house arrest since July after spending his first two months in a Vatican detention room. The Vatican has said he would serve any sentence in an Italian prison because it doesnt have any long-term prison facilities.
But a papal pardon is nevertheless widely expected.