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.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said in a statement that President Hussainleft for Turkey accompanied by Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz.
The ECOWAS countries and airlines will make their own decisions on flight bans and borders
The deal will include shipments of weaponry, ammunition as well as ground equipment, spare parts and pilot training
The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying about $100 million worth of Kurdish crude, has been anchored in the Gulf of Mexico for weeks
Finland scrambled jets to identify the Russian plane it suspected of crossing over, which it called a state aircraft -- a term that refers to those used in military, customs and police services.
An open letter from 200 businessmen and women put forward the economic argument for independence from the United Kingdom.
The confrontation occurred in the mountainous border zone just outside the town of Arsal, which was held for five days by militants including fighters affiliated to ISIL
Catherine Samba-Panza insists she harbors no ill will towards predecessor Michel Djotodia, who has been based in Benin since his January 2011 resignation.
The United Nations is supervising the audit of votes from a run-off ballot between the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani
Hundreds have been killed in the past year in clashes pitting the semi-nomadic, cattle-herding Fulani people against settled communities
Separatists backed by Russian soldiers have entered the town of Novoazovsk in southeastern Ukraine, a pro-government militia fighter said
Poroshenko, standing at Kiev's airport in light rain with his back to the presidential plane he was to have boarded for Turkey, referred specifically to the worsening military situation near Amvrosiyivka and Starobesheve
Mursi is being questioned in connection with his secretary's daughter who is suspected of leaking sensitive security documents to Al Jazeera, the security sources said.
The party denied that the move is related to a possible decision to contest Egypt's upcoming parliamentary elections.
The move, by Douglas Carswell, a prominent Eurosceptic, will trigger a high-profile election for his parliamentary seat in southern England as he tries to get re-elected to represent UKIP
The appeal by Tutu follows a decision in January by PGGM, another Dutch pension fund, to pull its investments from five Israeli banks