Former Papal Butler Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Aggravated Theft

Director of Holy See Press Office Has Not Ruled Out Possibility of Papal Pardon

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The trial of former Papal Butler, Paolo Gabriele, came to a close on Saturday where the defendant was found guilty of aggravated theft and sentenced to 18 months in prison. The guilty verdict was announced in court on Saturday by Judge Giuseppe dalla Torre, president of the Vatican Tribunal.

Taking into account Gabriele's testimony where he stated that he "acted out of love for the Church and its leader on earth", the court reduced the sentence which carried a maximum 4 year prison sentence. Following the verdict, a partial ban on any future employment in the Vatican was also handed down to Gabriele. Should he remain an employee, he will be barred from working in "any offices that deal with judicial, administrative or legal matters.

Cristiana Arru, Gabriele's attorney, stated that while she considered the verdict as "balanced", Arru did not dismiss the possibility of appealing the sentence, citing several "holes" in the judicial investigation of the theft. The Pope's former butler will remain under house arrest until the Court reconvenes to decide if and when Gabriele's sentence will be carried out.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, applauded the Vatican tribunal's handling of the case as well as the speed of the sentence, describing it as both "clement and just." Fr. Lombardi also did not rule out the possibility of pardon by the Holy Father.