5 Oct 2012

Details of search of butler's home heard by court

9:05 am on 5 October 2012

A trial at Vatican City has heard details of the search of the home of the former butler of Pope Benedict.

Paolo Gabriele, 46, is accused of taking documents from the Pontiff's desk.

The BBC reports Mr Gabriele denies a charge of theft, but admits leaking sensitive paperwork to the media because he wanted to expose evil and corruption within the Vatican.

Police officers told the Vatican court they found "dozens" of papers about the Pope and the Vatican in his possession.

A cheque for 100,000 euros (£80,000) made out to the Pope was also found.

The Vatican has announced the trial is due to end on Saturday, when closing arguments will be heard. The three judges will then retire to consider their verdict.

If convicted, Mr Gabriele faces up to four years in prison but Pope Benedict is expected to grant a pardon.

He was arrested in May, accused of passing papal correspondence to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose book His Holiness: The Secret Papers Of Pope Benedict XVI was published that month.

Vatican police officers told the court they had removed more than 1000 incriminating documents - including originals initialled by the Pope himself - from the butler's home before his arrest.

Since the trial began on Saturday, no TV cameras or recorders have been allowed inside the courtroom. Coverage of the trial is restricted.