VATICAN CITY -- A Vatican court on Saturday convicted a Holy See computer expert of obstruction of justice as part of a broader investigation into the theft of confidential papal documents that were leaked to a journalist. He was given a two-month suspended sentence.
The defendant, Claudio Sciarpelletti, 48, a computer analyst with the Vatican's Secretariat of State, is the second Vatican employee to be sentenced in an uncommon breach of security at an institution known for its secrecy. Pope Benedict XVI's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, is serving an 18-month sentence after being convicted of leaking papal documents to a journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, who published many of them in the book "His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Pope Benedict XVI."
Mr. Sciarpelletti was found guilty of misleading investigators by giving contradictory testimony after he was interrogated about an envelope found in his desk that was addressed to the pope's butler and contained what investigators identified as confidential material. Mr. Sciarpelletti was initially sentenced to four months in prison, which the court reduced to two, then suspended, because he had no previous criminal record and because of his long years of service. The conviction will not appear on his record, the court ruled.
Mr. Sciarpelletti's lawyer indicated on Saturday that he would appeal. Mr. Sciarpelletti said that he had never looked at the contents of the envelope and had been confused about who had closed it, put the stamp on it and why he had it because of the "moral shock" of being arrested.
"I challenge anyone to remember what he did three years ago, even on the day of your birthday," Mr. Sciarpelletti told the court on Saturday.
Mr. Sciarpelletti spent one night in prison after his arrest in May.
Witnesses called to the stand on Saturday said that Mr. Sciarpelletti had cooperated with investigators. The court also heard testimony from two Vatican security officials, a Vatican prelate and Mr. Gabriele, the pope's former butler.
Mr. Gabriele said that he had given documents to Mr. Sciarpelletti, but said they were not of a confidential nature. Mr. Gabriele testified that he had wanted to share his impression with Mr. Sciarpelletti on the "peculiar atmosphere" at the Vatican at the time, a feeling that Mr. Gabriele would now describe as "ridiculous and with some inaccuracies," he said.
Mr. Gabriele was tried separately last month and was found guilty of aggravated theft for passing confidential documents to Mr. Nuzzi, whose book was published in May and became a best seller. Mr. Gabriele is incarcerated in Vatican City.
Mr. Gabriele and Mr. Sciarpelletti are the only Vatican employees who have been formally investigated so far, but the Vatican's prosecutor said that the investigation was continuing.
"The punishment is not implemented, but there is a sentence," the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, told reporters on Saturday. "I think the story is not over yet."world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.