Paolo Gabriele, a 46-year-old father of three, faces up to four years in prison if he is convicted of aggravated theft in the worst security breach in the Vatican’s recent history. He has already confessed, saying he acted to shed light on what he called “evil and corruption” in the church, and asked to be pardoned by the pope — something Vatican watchers say is a given if he is convicted.
His trial opened inside the austere, wood-trimmed courtroom of the Vatican tribunal, housed in a four-story palazzo inside the walls of Vatican City. Journalists covering the trial were required to leave their mobile telephones outside during the proceedings, and a written note delivered to the Vatican press office confirmed that the trial was indeed under way.
While the Holy See has seen its fair share of sensational trials — in 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake after being condemned by a Vatican court for heresy — this is the most high-profile case to come before the three-judge panel since the creation of the Vatican City state in 1929.