* Gabriele has admitted leaks, does not consider it a crime
* Could get up to four years in jail, pope could pardon him
* Sentence would be served in an Italian jail
By Naomi O'Leary and Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, Oct 6 A trial that has thrown open
the window on a betrayal of trust and sensitive secrets in the
Vatican will come to a head on Saturday with final arguments
before judges deliver their verdict on Pope Benedict's former
The so-called "Vatileaks" trial, which began last Saturday,
is due to wind up after only four hearings when the prosecution
and defence make closing arguments on Saturday morning.
Paolo Gabriele, 46, who has been tried under a 19th-century
Italian penal code, will be given the chance to have the last
say before the three-judge panel retires to deliberate behind
A former member of the small, select group known as "the
papal family", and one of fewer than 10 people who had a key to
an elevator leading directly to the pope's apartments, Gabriele
faces up to four years in prison if he is convicted, as is
expected. He would serve out the sentence in an Italian jail
because the Vatican has no such facility.
In the course of the trial, intimate details emerged of the
inner workings of an institution long renowned for its secrecy.
Gabriele, who is charged with aggravated theft, has admitted
being the source of leaks of highly sensitive papers, including
letters to the pope that alleged corruption in the Vatican's
The documents 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, a trusted servant who served the pope meals,
helped him dress and rode in the popemobile, has told the court
he does not consider himself guilty of a crime.
He 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.
He has asked for Benedict's forgiveness and expressed
feelings of guilt and remorse for betraying the man he said he
"loved as a son would".
If Gabriele is ordered to serve time in jail, the pope could
pardon him, which would absolve him from having to serve a
The pontiff has the power to do this because besides being
the head of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church, he is
the absolute monarch of the Vatican City state, where the
alleged crime took place.
"Paolo Gabriele may well be pardoned but it will certainly
send a message in the Vatican about how people behave," Greg
Burke, a senior communications adviser for the Vatican, said.
"In the past there's often been the idea that anybody could
get away with anything. That's clearly not the case."
The Vatican has been eager for the trial to finish quickly,
holding hearings on Saturdays to avoid it overshadowing a Synod
of Bishops, an important Church convention that takes place
every few years which is due to start on Sunday.
Ending after only four sessions - something unheard of in
the Italian legal system - has raised the question whether the
man who hoped a shock would "bring the Church back on the right
track," will have altered the institution he set out to change.
"It has surely changed something but in my opinion, not too
much," said Rome resident Nicoletta Fresa. "It will never be
possible to penetrate this closed realm of the Vatican and their
(Additional reporting by Hanna Rantala and Antonio Denti;
Editing by Michael Roddy)