The Vatican Knows You're A Liar, And Other Quirks Of Catholic Justice

Photo: flickr:rohan_chennal

Pope Benedict XVI’s ex-butler will stand trial Saturday after admitting to leaking church documents to the press.The plight of ex-butler Paolo Gabriele has spurred “the butler did it” jokes and intense scrutiny over what it’s like to stand trial in the Vatican.

In fact, going on trial in the Vatican – an independent enclave of Rome – is truly weird.

Here are some of the oddest facts about criminal justice in the Vatican:

  • With only 900 residents, the Vatican has such a small prospective pool of jurors that it doesn’t hold jury trials, Slate has previously reported.
  • Gabriele will be tried before a three-judge panel. His hearing will be on a Saturday because the judges have full-time jobs elsewhere, according to the Seattle Times, which was briefed by Vatican appellate magistrate Giovanni Giacobbe along with other news outlets.
  • Unlike in the U.S., where prosecutors interrogate suspects, a presiding judge will question Gabriele on behalf of both the defence and prosecution, several news outlets reported.
  • Gabriele, like other suspects, won’t take an oath because the Vatican assumes he can lie to protect himself, the Seattle Times reports.
  • The Pope can’t officially influence the judges, but he can intervene at any time to pardon his mischievous butler, Giacobbe said, according to the Daily Beast.
  • While Gabriele has admitted to leaking the documents, he must stand trial in the Vatican – because it doesn’t allow plea bargains.

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