* Butler says eyesight hurt, denied pillow after arrest
* Says leaked documents but not guilty of "aggravated theft"
* Feels remorse, guilt for betraying pope
(Updates with quotes, colour)
By Philip Pullella and Naomi O'Leary
VATICAN CITY, Oct 2 Pope Benedict's former
butler, on trial for stealing papal documents, told a Vatican
court on Tuesday that during the first weeks of his detention he
was held in an isolation room so small he couldn't stretch out
his arms and with light on constantly.
Paolo Gabriele said that during those weeks he had suffered
damage to his eyesight and had felt under psychological
pressure. On the first night in the room in the Vatican's police
station, "even a pillow was denied me", he said.
A judge ordered an investigation of the police force after
Gabriele, speaking confidently and smiling often, made the
assertions on the second day of a trial that has embarrassed the
The leaks have laid bare the inner-workings of the tiny
city-state at a time when the Vatican has been eager to clean up
its image after a series of scandals involving widespread sexual
abuse of minors and mismanagement at its bank.
Gabriele, who is accused of passing to a journalist
documents alleging corruption in the Vatican, pleaded not guilty
to charges of aggravated theft.
But he said in his testimony, the first time he has spoken
publicly since his arrest, that he considered himself "guilty of
betraying the trust of the Holy Father, who I loved like a son
(loves a father)".
Wearing a smart grey suit, he said he acted because he could
see a wide gap between the way ordinary people perceived things
in the Church and the way they were seen by "those at the
pinnacle of power".
Gabriele has not denied stealing copies of documents and
leaking them but told investigators he did so because he saw
"evil and corruption everywhere in the in the Church" and wanted
to help the pope.
Asked by his lawyer Cristiana Arru if it was true that for
the first weeks after his arrest on May 23 he was held in a room
so narrow he could not stretch out his arms, he said: "Yes."
In answer to a question by the judge, Gabriele said:
"For the first 15-20 days the light was on 24 hours a day
and there was no switch. As a result my eyesight was damaged."
He said he was subjected to what he and his lawyer called
After hearing the accusations of abuse, the president of the
three-judge panel, Giuseppe Dalla Torre, told Vatican prosecutor
Nicola Picardi to open an investigation into the allegations.
Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican police, issued a
statement saying the room conformed to "standards used by other
countries in similar situations".
It said the light had been kept on for general security
reason, to keep Gabriele from harming himself and that the
prisoner had been given an eye mask. He denied that Gabriele had
not been given a pillow and said Gabriele was later moved to a
larger room in the Vatican police station.
Monsignor Georg Ganswein, Benedict's private
priest-secretary, appeared uncomfortable during his testimony as
he answered questions about the daily routines of the papal
household and recounted how he confronted Gabriele about the
Gabriele, who appeared calm during the course of the
three-hour session, stood up in a spontaneous sign of respect
when Ganswein, his former boss, walked in.
Ganswein, like the other witnesses, put his right hand on a
book of the gospels and swore to tell the truth.
Gabriele earlier had suggested that important information
had been withheld from the pope but did not say who had done so.
"At times the pope asked questions about things he should
have been informed about," Gabriele said, adding: "I became
convinced that it is easy to manipulate a person who has
enormous decisions-making power in his hands."
He said he went to his "confessor" when he realised he was
doing something wrong but did not stop and that he was never was
offered money for the leaked documents.
The papers Gabriele admits he photocopied and passed on at
secret meetings included letters to the pope in which a senior
Vatican functionary expressed concern about improper behaviour
in the Holy See's business dealings.
The letter-writer, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, was later
posted to Washington despite pleading to be allowed to remain at
the papal state.
Gabriele said he did not have any direct accomplices but was
influenced by others and by a widespread malaise in the Vatican.
Vatican policemen testified how they seized so much material
from the Vatican apartment where Gabriele lived with his wife
and three children and from his quarters at the pope's summer
residence that they filled 82 boxes.
The trial was adjourned until Wednesday morning.
(Editing by Michael Roddy)