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The Vatileaks scandal is a scandal involving leaked Vatican documents, allegedly exposing corruption. The scandal first came to light in late January 2012 in a television programme aired in Italy under the name of The Untouchables (Gli intoccabili). Further information was released when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published letters from Carlo Maria Viganò, formerly the second ranked Vatican administrator to the pope, in which he begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions in higher contract prices. Viganò is now the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.
Over the following months the situation widened as documents were leaked to Italian journalists, uncovering power struggles inside the Vatican over its efforts to show greater financial transparency and comply with international norms to fight money laundering. Also in early 2012, an anonymous letter made the headlines for its warning of a death threat against Pope Benedict XVI. The scandal escalated in May 2012 when Nuzzi published a book entitled His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVIconsisting of confidential letters and memos between Pope Benedict and his personal secretary, a controversial book that portrays the Vatican as a hotbed of jealousy, intrigue and underhanded factional fighting. The book reveals details about the Pope's personal finances, and includes tales of bribes made to procure an audience with him.
Vatican internal investigation
Pope Benedict appointed a commission of cardinals to investigate the leaks in March 2012. The Vatican probed into the leaks is working along several tracks, Vatican magistrates pursued the criminal investigation and the Vatican secretariat of state pursued an administrative probe. The three cardinals appointed by Benedict acted in a supervisory role, looking beyond the narrow criminal scope of the leaks to interview broadly across the Vatican bureaucracy. They reported directly to the pope, and could both share information with Vatican prosecutors and receive information from them, according to Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi. The group was headed by Cardinal Julian Herranz, an Opus Dei prelate who headed the Vatican's legal office as well as the disciplinary commission of the Vatican bureaucracy before retiring.
Paolo Gabriele, who has been the pope's personal butler since 2006, was alleged to have leaked the stolen information to Gianluigi Nuzzi. Gabriele was arrested 23 May after confidential letters and documents addressed to the pope and other Vatican officials were allegedly found in his Vatican apartment. Similar documents had been published in Italian media over the previous five months; many of them dealt with allegations of corruption, abuse of power and a lack of financial transparency at the Vatican.
He was arrested by Vatican police, who claimed to have found classified documents in his apartment that he shared with his wife and three children. Gabriele was released from custody in July 2012 and moved to house arrest. Piero Antonio Bonnet, the Vatican's judge, had been instructed to examine the evidence of the case and to decide whether there is sufficient material to proceed to trial. Prior to conviction, Gabriele faced a maximum sentence of 8 years for the illegal possession of documents of a head of state. The sentence was served in an Italian prison, due to an agreement between Italy and the Vatican.
On 26 July, Pope Benedict held a meeting of the commission of cardinals. Included in attendance, were the head of the Vatican police, those judges involved in the case, and representatives of the Vatican secretariat of state, according to a report from Federico Lombardi.
On 30 May 2012, Pope Benedict made his first direct comments on the scandal in remarks at the end of his weekly general audience. The Pope said the "exaggerated" and "gratuitous" rumours had offered a false image of the Holy See, commenting "The events of recent days about the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness in my heart...I want to renew my trust in and encouragement of my closest collaborators and all those who every day, with loyalty and a spirit of sacrifice and in silence, help me fulfill my ministry.
Trial of Paolo Gabriele
Paolo Gabriele was indicted by Vatican magistrates on 13 August 2012 for aggravated theft. The first hearing of the trial of Paolo Gabriele and Claudio Sciarpelletti took place on 29 September 2012.
Gabriele's trial began on 2 October 2012. He claimed to have stolen the documents to fight "evil and corruption" and put the Vatican "back on track". Multiple evaluations of Gabriele's mental health provided conflicting results: concluding in one report that, Gabriele suffered from a "fragile personality with paranoid tendencies covering profound personal insecurity"; yet another report found that Gabriele showed no adequate signs of a major psychological disorder nor posing any serious threat to himself or others. Vatican police seized encrypted documents and confidential papers that the Pope had marked “to be destroyed” when they raided the apartment of his butler the court heard.
On 6 October, Paolo Gabriele was found to be guilty of theft, and was sentenced to a reduced sentence of 18 months in an Italian prison. Gabriele was also ordered to pay legal expenses. As of October 26, 2012, he was serving his sentence in the Vatican itself but, Gabriele was pardoned by Benedict XVI on 22 December 2012.