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.
The crew managed to parachute out of the downed military plane , say witnesses
The price hike is part of government efforts to cut energy subsidies to ease the burden on the state budget.
Difficult terrain affecting the mobility of the rescue teams at the site, 60 km (37 miles) from the western city of Pune.
There were indications that unrest had spread to Kashgar, a popular tourist site especially during the summer.
The school was the second such UNRWA facility to be hit by the Israeli army within one week. On Thursday, at least 15 Palestinian civilians were killed when the Israeli army shelled the Beit Hanoun school, also in northern Gaza Strip.
The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce blasted the policy over its treatment of minors
The talks are expected to involve Russia's ambassador to Kiev, Mikhail Zurabov, and former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who have met several times since the crisis in Ukraine began
L'Unita, founded by Gramsci in 1924 as the official organ of the Italian Communist Party, survived the fascist era as an underground newspaper
Hundreds of armed assaults have been launched from Russian soil, says a Ukrainian official.
The panel will hold meetings with government officials, the national Human Rights Commission and civil society organizations working on children rights issues.
Israel's police said that scores of Palestinian youths had hurled stones and fireworks at police men in Jabel Mukaber
Journalists have increasingly become targets of Israeli attacks in Gaza, according to the head of a Turkish media workers’ union
The Israeli warplanes fired several missiles at the house of Al-Astal family in Khan Younis, killing nine, including a child
The footage shows three Hamas members attempting to abduct an Israeli soldier before killing him and seizing an Israeli weapon.
UN-backed court to focus on charges related to the genocide of Cambodia's Cham Muslim minority by ultra-Maoist group.
Obama said the sanctions would have a "greater impact on the Russian economy than we've seen so far" in a drive to force Moscow to stop backing the separatists.