Now that a Vatican judge has ordered the Pope’s butler to stand trial for theft, Business Insider decided to take a look at criminal justice in the Vatican.The Vatican, an independent enclave of Rome, by its very nature blurs the line between church and state, according to this NYU guide on Vatican law.
The three judges on the Vatican’s highest court are all relatively high-ranking officials with the church.
While it might seem unusual to have church officials serve as judges, many of the other differences between the Vatican’s criminal justice system and other country’s stem from the Vatican’s small size, Slate reported in May.
With only 900 residents, the Vatican has such a small prospective pool of jurors that it doesn’t hold jury trials. The city only has one tiny jail, which it uses to detain defendants before their trials, according to Slate.
Consequently, a lot of defendants receive fines instead of jail time.
Those who are hit with longer jail sentences are usually shipped off to Italian prisons at the Pope’s expense, according to Slate.
Unlike the U.S., in which most cases never go to trial because of plea bargaining, the Vatican doesn’t allow defendants to strike such deals.
Paolo Gabriele, the butler who’s accused of taking documents from the Pope’s apartment, will be tried before a three-judge panel in late September at the earliest, the Washington Post reported.
The Vatican has promised the public will have access to the trial.
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