Pope's butler, 2nd layman face trial in theft case

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VATICAN CITY — A Vatican judge today ordered the pope’s butler and a fellow lay employee to stand trial for allegedly pilfering documents from Pope Benedict XVI’s private apartment, a scandal that embarrassed the Vatican and exposed infighting and alleged corruption at the highest levels.

The indictment accused Paolo Gabriele, the butler arrested at the Vatican in May, of grand theft, a charge that carries one to six years in jail on conviction if the pope does not choose to pardon his once-trusted aide.

The indictment also ordered a trial for Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer expert in the Secretariat of State office who is charged with aiding and abetting Gabriele.

The Vatican has been on the defensive ever since documents alleging corruption and exposing power struggles began appearing in the Italian media in January. In May, a book by an Italian journalist was published containing dozens of documents from the pope’s desk, including letters written to Benedict.

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