World Bulletin/News Desk
A Vatican court convicted Pope Benedict's former butler of stealing sensitive documents and sentenced him to 18 months in prison on Saturday, at the end of one of the most sensational trials in the recent history of the Holy See.
A Vatican spokesman said the pope, who reigns as a supreme monarch in the world's smallest city-state, would "most likely" pardon Paolo Gabriele, which would mean he would not have to serve his sentence.
Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict's former butler convicted of stealing sensitive documents, will serve his sentence under house arrest in his Vatican apartment while awaiting a possible papal pardon, his lawyer said.
The court delivered its verdict after two hours of deliberations and closing arguments by the prosecution and the defence.
Gabriele had admitted being the source of leaks of highly sensitive papers, including letters to the pope that alleged corruption in the Vatican's business dealings.
"What I feel most strongly inside myself is the conviction that I acted exclusively out of love, I would say a visceral love, for the Church of Christ and its visible representative," he said in an impassive voice during a final appeal to the court.
"If I have to repeat it, I am not a thief," he added.
The prosecution had asked for a three-year sentence while the defence asked the court to reduce the charges from aggravated theft to misappropriation and for him to be freed.
The head of the three-judge panel, wearing a black robe with gold tassels, read the verdict with the opening words: "In the name of Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, gloriously reigning, the court has invoked the Holy Trinity and has reached its sentence."
The judge said he had given Gabriele a lighter sentence because he had no previous criminal record. Gabriele's lawyer and the Vatican spokesman said the former butler would be returned to house arrest in the Vatican for the time being.
The lawyer said she would decide after reading the court's formal explanation of its verdict whether to file an appeal.
The trial, which started last Saturday, threw open the window on a betrayal of trust and sensitive secrets in the Vatican.
A former member of the small, select group known as "the papal family", Gabriele was one of fewer than 10 people who had a key to an elevator leading directly to the pope's apartments.
In the course of the trial, intimate details emerged of the inner workings of an institution long renowned for its secrecy.
The documents Gabriele leaked constituted one of the biggest crises of Pope Benedict's papacy when they emerged in a muckraking expose by an Italian journalist earlier this year.
The case has been an embarrassment for the Vatican, coming at a time when it was keen to rid itself from the taint left by a series of scandals involving sexual abuse of minors by clerics around the world and mismanagement at its bank.
Gabriele told investigators before the trial began that he leaked the documents because he saw "evil and corruption everywhere in the Church" and that information was being hidden from the pope.
Earlier this week Gabriele accused the Holy See's police of mistreating him while in custody. Members of the force in turn depicted the butler as a man obsessed with the occult, Masonic lodges and secret services.
Northern Iraqi city sees car-bomb, suicide attacks by extrem group
The chief of NATO has said that Russia's only aircraft carrier may possibly be used in strikes in Aleppo
Atheel al-Nujaifi allowed Turkey to establish military presence in northern Iraq, judicial officials allege
No group claims responsibility for the deadly attacks
European Council summit in Brussels covering migration, relations with Russia, and situation in Syria
Armed militants have attacked government buildings in Kirkuk
Hundreds of police officers in France have continued their protests against violence against police
Turkic ethnic group 'defending Iraq's territorial integrity'
Asked about May's role at the summit, Hollande said she was attending as a fully paid up member of the European Council.
"The UK is leaving the EU but we will continue to play a full role until we leave and we'll be a strong and dependable partner after we've left," she told reporters.
Foreign minister reveals working party to examine penetration of Gulenists
The man was detained for alleged premeditated attempted murder as well as misuse of explosive materials, said senior prosecutor Imre Keresztes.
The imperiled migrants, including Africans and Syrians, were unable to fix broken motorboat engine before Coast Guard rescue
Those living in Tripoli say they are exhausted by power cuts, price rises and a lack of cash flow as rival authorities and militias battle for control of the country.
The draft broadens the language of EU foreign ministers on Monday who spoke only of targeting Syria and "Syrian individuals and entities supporting the regime".