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Papal butler, accused of leaking, "acted alone": lawyer

The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele (bottom L) arrives with Pope Benedict XVI (R) at St. Peter's Square in Vatican, in this file photo taken M
The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele (bottom L) arrives with Pope Benedict XVI (R) at St. Peter's Square in Vatican, in this file photo taken M

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler who has been detained for nearly two months on suspicion of leaking documents alleging corruption in the Vatican, acted alone and was not part of any wider plot, his lawyer said on Saturday.

Carlo Fusco told a news conference that he expected a Vatican magistrate to order a trial for Gabriele, who was given permission on Saturday to move from a police "safe room" to house arrest.

"The motivations that prompted him to do certain things are all of an interior nature. There were no external motives," Fusco said.

Gabriele was arrested on May 23 when police found confidential documents in his apartment inside the Vatican.

He had been held since then in a small "safe room" in the Vatican police station and will now return to the apartment and live with his family while he awaits the magistrate's decision on an eventual trial.

"The motivations that prompted him to do certain things are all of an internal nature. There were no external motives," Fusco said after assisting Gabriele in an interrogation that lasted seven hours.

Many commentators have said Gabriele, who served the pope his meals and rode in the front seat of the pope mobile at Pope Benedict's general audiences, could not have acted alone. But the lawyer denied this.

"We can say with absolute certainty that there was no network, there were no plots, either in the Vatican or outside the Vatican, that Paolo was part of," Fusco said.

Fusco said Gabriele, who is being investigated for aggravated theft and faces up to six years in jail if found guilty, was "moved by the desire to do something that could be an act of help, an act of love, towards the pope".

Documents leaked to the Italian media alleged corruption in the awarding of contracts to Italian companies and internal conflict about the Vatican bank.

"Obviously the way in which each person expresses (such desires) are subjective and are debatable," Fusco said.

Asked by a reporter if Gabriele's motive could have been to "help the pope clean up the Church", Fusco said: "That would be one way of interpreting it."

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said a Vatican magistrate would decide by the start of August whether to order Gabriele to stand trial.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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