Paolo Gabriele, Pope's former butler, begins jail sentence in Vatican cell


Pope Benedict XVI waves as he stands with butler Paolo Gabriele, center, on May 4, 2011, at St Peter's square at The Vatican.



Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict XVI's former butler, began his 18-month sentence in a Vatican cell Thursday for leaking hundreds of private documents from the Pope's office.

Gabriele has been under house arrest since he was found guilty October 6, according to Agence France Presse. Gabrielle leaked hundreds of sensitive correspondence to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who wrote a book about corruption at Vatican that could influence who becomes the next Pope, BBC News reported. The ensuing scandal came to be known as "Vatileaks." 

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Though the prosecution initially sought a three-year term for Paolo, a husband and father of three, the court handed him a softer sentence because of his lack of a criminal record, Reuters reported

In a statement, the Vatican's secretary of state's office left open the possibility of a papal pardon for Paolo Gabriele, the Associated Press reported. The Pope is a sovereign head, and thus has the power to forgive his ex-butler if he repents and asks for forgiveness. 

Gabrielle's lawyer said during the trial that thought her client's actions were illegal, they were "morally motivated" and that she hoped "they will be recognized and applauded," CNN reported

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