Yesterday the Vatican police testified about what they found when they raided Paolo Gabriele’s apartment on May 23.
What did they find?
Among other things, papers from the Pope’s private desk marked, in German, “destroy.” In other words, Pope Benedict, or his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, had asked that these sensitive papers be destroyed.
Obviously, these documents were not destroyed — Gabriele, evidently, took them and preserved them in his home.
Four Vatican policemen — Luca Cintia, Stefano De Santis, Silvano Carli and Luca Bassetti — were the only witnesses to give testimony today in the ongoing “Vatileaks” trial.
They spoke about finding these documents marked “destroy,” and about everything else they found the night they raided Gabriele’s apartment inside Vatican City where he lived with his wife and three children.
One piece of evidence they provided was startling: that there was a lot of computer hardware found in Gabriele’s apartment:
— one desktop computer
— “two or three laptops”
— “numerous USB keys” (small digital memory “pens,” devices which store data on a “pen” or “key” the size of a finger; the word “numerous” is italicized because we do not know how many were found, perhaps a dozen or so, perhaps even more…);
— two hard disks;
— various memory cards;
— a Playstation, and an iPad.
Now, what data (say, photographs, possibly even of the Pope? or recordings, possibly of the Pope’s private conversations?) was saved on all of this hardware?
We do not know.
In fact, one of the policemen who testified today seemed to suggest that the data on this hardware, the information is stored on these computers, hard drives and memory cards, has not yet even been catalogued by the Vatican police.
“It’s going to be interesting,” said De Santis, referring to studying the data stored on these devices — in the future tense.
This would seem to mean that the thorough investigation of these memory chips and hard drives has not yet occurred.
And this seems peculiar, for here we have a man who had access to literally everything in the Pope’s private apartment, and we know that he gave some of his material to Gianluigi Nuzzi for publication in the book His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, but we do not know whether he shared his information with anyone else.
Nor do we know if he worked for anyone else.
Apparently, the Vatican police don’t know either — four months after collecting all these computer devices.
A “secret agent”?
The Vatican police confirmed what we reported yesterday: that Gabriele’s archive seemed like something that would be kept by a “secret agent” — by a spy. (Remember, this was the Pope’s butler, a man who was physically next to Pope Benedict XVI for hours every day for the past six years.)
Writing today in VaticanInsider (a website funded by La Stampa of Turin, property of Gianni Agnelli and family, the major owner of FIAT, the Italian car company; Agnelli was reportedly a founder of the Trilateral Commission and a member of the Bilderberg steering commission), Italian journalist Giacomo Galeazzi wrote about Gabriele’s “strange 007-style archive” which contained “letters from politicians, correspondence between cardinals and the Pope, and documents on freemasonry and secret services.”
According to the testimony today, the police were at Gabriele’s home from 3:50 in the afternoon until just before midnight, for about 8 hours, on the afternoon and evening of May 23.
Andrea Gagliarducci, a young Italian journalist who writes for the websiteKorazym, noted today: “La perquisizione del 23 maggio comincia tra le 15 e le 16 (alle 15 e 50) e termina intorno alle 23, quando i gendarmi decidono di portare via tutto il materiale per analizzarlo con cura” (“The raid of May 23 began between 3 and 4 o’clock — at 3:50 — and ended at about 11 pm, when the gendarmes decided to carry away all the material to analyze it with care”).
Galeazzi of VaticanInsider added: “As the search dragged on and Gabriele had decided not to send his family away, the commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, issued an order for the search in the children’s rooms to be speeded up so as to protect them as far as possible and allow them to sleep.”
Two of the Vatican police — Silvano Carli and Luca Bassetti — arrived on the scene when the house search was already underway, especially to look through the children’s rooms.
“Sorry if you have have to work late…”
The policemen said that Gabriele offered them coffee during the search and then said to them: “Vedete quanto mi piace leggere? Vedete quanto mi piace studiare? Mi dispiace se farete tardi.” (“Do you see how much I like to read? Do you see how much I like to study? I’m sorry if you have to work late…”)
Then, after some eight hours of rifling through Paolo’s papers, looking for Vatican documents hidden inside other folders, and evidently finding several hundred pages of papers taken from the Vatican mixed among the mass of other papers and folders, the Vatican police took a dramatic decision: they decided to simply cart away all of the material in Gabriele’s home: 82 crates of documents, plus two leather briefcases and two yellow bags full of letters (it is not clear how large these bags were).
Now, most of these 82 crates were not Vatican documents. Rather, they were “hundreds of thousands of documents” (yes, the trial transcript says “hundreds of thousands”) which were Gabriele’s own archives.
In a certain sense, one could almost say, given these proportions — about 1,000 pages of documents taken by Gabriele from the Vatican (enough to make a stack about three or four inches high, high enough to fit in an ordinary briefcase), and “hundreds of thousands” of pages of documents (so, a stack hundreds of times higher, dozens of feet) — that the Vatican police, in the end, may have been as interested in obtaining possession of and studying Gabriele’s own archives, gathered over many years on matters ranging from freemasonry to the role of secret agencies in world affairs, as in getting back the 1,000 or so pages of “Vatileaks” documents that were mixed in with these “hundreds of thousands” of private archive pages.
They took the whole lot.
Was there anything else in those “hundreds of thousands” of pages of interest? Anything else obtained from anywhere besides the Vatican, for example?
We simply do not know.
Galeazzi writes: “The number of vital documents found was far greater than those published by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi in his book Sua Santità (‘His Holiness’). But these were ‘well hidden’ as they were ‘mixed in with thousands of other letters’ to do with studies and texts on ‘Masonry, esoterism, the P2 and P4 Masonic Lodges, secret services, the Bisignani and Calvi cases, the Vatican bank (IOR), the AIF [the body which oversees the Vatican finances] and Berlusconi,’ the Vatican police said. But there were also texts about ‘Christianity and yoga, Christianity and other religions, yoga and Buddhism and other material which was presumably to do with Gabrieles’ children’s schooling and studies.’ Other material is to do with ‘how to hide jpeg and Word files, how to record and make videos, and how to secretly use a cell phone.’ The documents that were seized filled up 82 cardboard removal boxes measuring 50-60 cm by 50 cm.”
An odd thing then happened at the trial.
Gabriele’s lawyer, Cristiana Arru, kept asking each one of the four Vatican policemen what seemed a silly question: How large were the armoirs, the two floor-to-ceiling wooden cabinets, which held all of these documents? And how large, she asked, were the boxes into which all the documents were placed when they were removed?
She was suggesting that, if you add all the 82 boxes together, they would overfill the two armoirs in Paolo’s home — that is, that the police took more from Paolo’s home than was there, meaning, they added to what was there.
This was never proved, of course; but it was the thrust of her questioning.
Arru told reporters after the hearing that she wanted to show that it was physically impossible for that amount of material to have been in Gabriele’s home.
Moreover, at the hearing, she asked each agent: “Were you ever alone during the raid?” In other words: Was there ever a time during the eight hours when Gabriele or his wife or his children were not present to observe the police?
Why was she asking this question?
Evidently, to suggest that it might have been possible for some documents to have been planted by the police.
In other words, in these questions, she was raising the possibility that some of the Vatican documents found by the police were not stolen by Gabriele, but placed there by the police to frame Gabriele.
De Santis replied, as did the others, that they were never alone. “Non siamo mai e poi mai rimasti da soli durante la perquizione, erano sempre presenti Paolo e la sua famiglia. Quando alle 20 abbiamo trasferito Gabriele in caserma, lo studio è stato chiuso a chiave.” (“We were never, and I stress, never, alone during the raid. Paolo and his family were always present. When at about 8 pm we transferred Gabriele to the police station, his study was closed and the door locked.”)
However, it is not clear from this testimony what the police did in the house between 8 pm, when they took Gabriele away, and 11 pm or midnight, when they left the house.
Regarding the 82 boxes of documents, Alessandrini said: “Tutti gli scataloni sono stati sigillati in presenza di Paolo Gabriele, che insieme a me ha controllato e controfirmato ogni scatola.” (“All the large boxes were sealed in the presence of Paolo Gabriele, who together with me checked and counter-signed each box.”)
But if this is the case, the boxes had to have been closed and signed before 8 pm, or so it would seem. Then what did the police do from 8 pm to 11 pm?
The Vatican police, or Gendarmerie (as it is called), is staffed entirely by Italians. It was founded in 1971, taking over many of the Vatican security functions once carried out by the Swiss Guard (staffed entirely by Swiss Catholics) which is today largely a ceremonial corps. The Gendarmerie is led by Domenico Giani, a former Italian secret service agent. So the security of the Pope and the Vatican is under the authority of Giani, a former member of the Italian secret services.
We know that Gabriele spent considerable time and energy studying the activity of secret services in general, and had extensive archives on this subject. We also know he kept extensive archives on the role of freemasonry in Italy (“P2,” “P3” and “P4”, as these masonic groups have been called) and on the influence of freemasonry in the Italian government and in Italy’s military and secret services.
Allesandro Speciale, a young Italian journalist writing today, also inVaticanInsider, had this to say about testimony yesterday, when Gabriele said he had been held in a tiny cell and with a light kept on all night which he could not turn off: “According to journalists who were present in the courtroom, Giani [the head of the Vatican police], who was seated in the tiny audience present at the hearing, appeared embarrassed on more than one occasion about the information revealed during the session. Not just when Gabriele stated he had been held in a constantly lit prison cell in which he could hardly stretch his arms out, for at least 15 days.”
Speciale adds: “Gabriele’s lawyer, Cristiana Arru, was insistent in the questions she addressed to three other Vatican policemen: Giuseppe Pesce, Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti and Costanzo Alessandrini. It emerged that the Vatican police conducted the search of Gabriele’s house without gloves and thus risked contaminating the evidence. Gauzzi Broccoletti and Alessandrini, two of the agents who took part in the search which led to the seizure of 82 boxfuls of documents from the former papal butler’s apartment, gave slightly different versions of the finding of the mysterious (possibly) golden nugget [note: a piece of gold given to the Pope as a gift which ended up in Gabriele’s apartment], which was treated as proof against Gabriele: No one gave a clear answer as to where exactly the nugget was found inside the house.”
Vatican judges said they would meet again on Saturday, October 6, to hear closing arguments. Gabriele will have a final opportunity to speak at that time. The judges will then retire for deliberation and a verdict is expected the same day.