29 Sep 2012

Pope's butler on trial

10:20 pm on 29 September 2012

Pope Benedict's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, goes on trial later today in one of the most embarrassing episodes in recent Vatican history.

The trial of the 46-year-old man, who served the Pope his meals and helped him dress, will be held in the Vatican's little-used tribunal, a small wood-panelled room with a papal emblem on its ceiling.

Mr Gabriele stands accused of stealing the pontiff's personal papers and leaking them to the media in what he says was an attempt to clean up corruption at the headquarters of the Catholic church. If found guilty he could be jailed for four years.

His arrest on 23 May caused an international furore after police found confidential documents in his apartment inside the Vatican, which pointed to a power struggle at the church's highest levels.