Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI`s former butler Paolo Gabriele went on trial on Saturday, who faces charges of stealing pontiff’s personal documents and leaking them to the media in what he claims was an attempt to clean up corruption at the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.
The trial of the 46-year-old man who served the Pope his meals and helped him dress, is one of the most embarrassing episodes in recent Vatican history. If convicted, he can receive up to four years in prison for aggravated theft.
The trila started at 4.30 pm (IST) in the Vatican`s little-used tribunal, a small room with rich paneled wood and a papal emblem on its ceiling.
The trial has been adjourned for next Tuesday.
Pope`s personal secretary Georg Gaenswein, 56, one of Benedict`s closest confidants, confronted the butler about the leaks early in May after being tipped off by the Vatican police.
He was arrested on May 23 after police found confidential documents in his apartment inside the Vatican.
His dramatic arrest shifted the global media spotlight on an institution battling to defend its reputation from allegations of graft.
A three-judge panel will decide the fate of Gabriele, whom the Pope used to call "Paoletto" (little Paul) and who is now described in Vatican documents as "the defendant".
According to an indictment last August, Gabriele told investigators he had acted because he saw "evil and corruption everywhere in the Church" and wanted to help root it out "because the Pope was not sufficiently informed".
The documents pointed to a power struggle at the Church`s highest levels.
Gabriele, who projects himself as a whistle-blowing "agent of the Holy Spirit", is widely expected to be convicted on charges of aggravated theft because of his admission of his act.
(With Agency Inputs)