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Computer expert sentenced over Vatican leaks

From Barbie Latza Nadeau, for CNN
November 10, 2012 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Computer technician Claudio Sciarpelletti is given a suspended two-month prison term
  • He was convicted of aiding and abetting the leak of secret Vatican papers to a journalist
  • Pope Benedict XVI's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, was jailed over the leaks last month
  • A lawyer for Sciarpelletti, who denied wrongdoing, says he will appeal the conviction

Vatican City (CNN) -- A Vatican computer technician received a two-month suspended sentence Saturday after he was found guilty of helping to leak Vatican secrets to the media.

The conviction of Claudio Sciarpelletti, who worked in the Vatican's secretariat of state, follows that of Pope Benedict XVI's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was given 18 months in prison last month for taking secret papers from the pope's personal apartment and leaking them to an author who included them in a best-selling book.

Sciarpelletti was found guilty of aiding and abetting Gabriele, the Vatican press office said. He was also ordered to pay court costs.

The suspended sentence means Sciarpelletti won't serve time in prison unless he reoffends within five years, the Vatican said. He had denied wrongdoing.

Sciarpelletti was accused of obstructing justice by offering several versions about why he had in his possession a medium-sized envelope of documents that ended up in that book, "Sua Santita" ("His Holiness"), by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, chief Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters.

In the envelope were documents, small books and e-mails, Lombardi said. They included one signed under pseudonym "nuvole," or "cloud."

A small pool of journalists briefed separately on the trial said that Gabriele, who also testified, confirmed that he had given documents to Sciarpelletti but said he had not put them in an envelope.

Sciarpelletti said he did not remember putting the documents and books in the envelope but confirmed that "Paolo Gabriele" was marked in his handwriting on the envelope, according to pool reports. The envelope was also titled "Napoleon of the Vatican," as if to suggest a chapter title for Nuzzi's book, the court heard.

Reporters were also told that the court heard that another envelope was found with similar documents given to Sciarpelletti by Monsignor Piero Benaccini. However, presiding Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre said that envelope was not admissible as evidence.

In his briefing, Lombardi dismissed the existence of a second secret envelope as a conspiracy theory and said that Sciarpelletti worked in an office where envelopes were frequently circulated.

Gianluca Benedetti, the lawyer for Sciarpelletti, said his client would appeal the conviction.

The investigation into the affair continues. Corruption claims based on the leaked documents rocked the Catholic Church hierarchy and could even affect who becomes the next pope.

CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this report.

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