Father of butler held in Vatican jail defends 'honest' son
THE father of the man languishing in a Vatican jail cell in connection with a raft of leaks that have damaged the reputation of the Pope and the Holy See has broken his silence to protest his son's innocence.
Vatican police seized Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict's butler, on May 23, after finding stolen documents in his home in the Vatican. But following its announcement last Thursday that it was extending the detention of Mr Gabriele past the usual 50-day limit while it gathered more evidence, his father Andrea, has hit out.
In a letter to an Italian television station's website, he insisted on his son's "great generosity and moral integrity," and his love for the church and the Pope. He said his son was an "honest person and will wait as long as it takes until everything is clarified".
"Paolo is paying the price first hand for a reality that's difficult to understand until the motive of what has happened is made public," he said.
The Vatican said nearly 30 people have been questioned in the case so far. But only Gabriele remains officially under investigation for allegedly passing the documents to the press.
Sensitive reports on the Vatican's tax affairs, and one document that suggested Pope Benedict's new ambassador in Washington was "exiled" to the US because he had blown the whistle on financial corruption, are among the documents that have found their way onto the newspaper front pages this year.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said last Thursday that investigators needed to gather further testimony, after which point "formal interrogation of Gabriele" would commence. "All of this should happen within 10 or so days from now," he said.
The butler has been held in an 11.5ft by 13ft room inside the Vatican police barracks. He is allowed regular family visits, and attends Mass weekly.