The Vatican is set to become a courtroom on Saturday when Pope Benedict’s former butler goes on trial accused of stealing the pontiff’s personal papers.
Paolo Gabriele is charged with “aggravated theft”. He has reportedly admitted leaking documents to a journalist in an apparent attempt to combat what he saw as evil and corruption in the Catholic Church.
The documents suggested a power struggle at the church’s highest levels.
The trial follows months of intrigue as Italian media reported the details.
A panel of three judges will determine the butler’s fate. He faces up to four years in jail if found guilty – unless there is a papal pardon.
“The Vatican is a very closed environment. It is very hard to form an idea for oneself. I am not sure that what comes out in the media mirrors the truth, when it comes to it,” said one Rome resident, Andrea Sperta.
A Catholic nun, Sister Noemi, said:
“Surely, everybody expects a human kind of justice to be made, based on human feelings. I am not God, I cannot judge so I step aside from the whole issue. May God’s will be done.”
A Vatican computer expert is also charged with aiding and abetting a crime.
The trial looks set to be one of the most unusual events in the world’s smallest state for decades.