Vatican City: Vatican authorities have denied claims that Pope Benedict XVI`s butler, who is being interrogated on suspicion of stealing confidential documents, had been acting as a ‘double agent’ to help officials uncover others involved in the so called ‘Vatileaks’ scandal.
Paolo Gabriele was held in custody for two on suspicion of stealing and leaking papers, which lifted the lid on bitter feuds and power games at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church.
It was recently suggested by Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s leading newspapers, that Vatican magistrates knew five months ago that he was behind the leaks, but came to a ‘secret pact’ under which he would lead them to other moles.
The newspaper said there was no other way to explain why the butler took the ‘suicidal’ decision to keep some of the stolen documents in the Vatican apartment that he shares with his wife and children.
The hypothesis was, however, denied by Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, The Telegraph reports.
“It was absolutely without foundation or plausibility,” the paper quoted Lombardi, as saying.
He further said that the substance of Gabriele’s questioning would not be made public because it was an ongoing criminal investigation.
Gabriele was questioned by Vatican prosecutors in the presence of his two lawyers as well as a Vatican judicial official known as the ‘promoter of justice’, as part of the process that could lead to him being charged with ‘aggravated theft’ and put on trial.
If convicted, he could be sent to prison for up to six years, a sentence that would have to be served in an Italian jail, because the Vatican does not have one.