- - Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The pope’s butler was formally questioned Tuesday in the investigation into the leaks of the pope’s papers, a scandal that represents one of the gravest security breaches in recent Vatican history.

Paolo Gabriele was arrested May 23 and has been held ever since in a secure room inside the Vatican gendarmerie building, a 13-by-13-foot room with a bathroom, a desk, a bed and a crucifix on the wall.

He is accused of aggravated theft. If convicted, he could face from one to six years in prison.

Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, a judge on the Vatican tribunal, told reporters that Mr. Gabriele was questioned by the investigating judge Tuesday morning in the presence of his two attorneys, the first such formal interrogation that could lead to an indictment or the dropping of charges.

The leaks scandal has convulsed the Vatican for months and resulted in an unprecedented investigation into who was responsible.

Mr. Gabriele was arrested as part of the criminal probe, but a commission of cardinals also is investigating the origins of the scandal, and the Vatican secretariat of state is trying to solve the whodunit as well.

Vatican documents leaked to the press in recent months have alleged corruption in Vatican finance as well as internal bickering over the Holy See’s efforts to show more transparency in its financial operations.


Biting spiders cause panic after 2 deaths

GAUHATI — Large biting spiders have sparked panic in remote northeastern India, but health authorities fear primitive treatment of the bites’ painful swelling may be more dangerous than the spiders themselves.

Two people died in Tinsukia district after witch doctors used razor blades to drain the wounds. It is not known whether the victims died from spider poison or from the attempted treatment.

Local Magistrate Kishore Thakuria said the victims were cremated before autopsies could be performed.

Another seven bite victims have been treated with antibiotics after they also tried to drain their wounds, Dr. Anil Phapowali said at the local Sadiya town hospital.

The hairy spiders were noticed about a month ago across Tinsukia district’s grassy plains and dense jungle forests north of the Brahmaputra River.


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