UPDATE 1-Court finds ex papal butler guilty, gets 18-month jail term

(Updates with details)

VATICAN CITY, Oct 6 (Reuters) - A Vatican court on Saturdayfound Pope Benedict's former butler guilty of stealing sensitivedocuments and sentenced him to a year and a half in prison.

The court delivered its verdict after a two-hourdeliberation on the last day of the trial.

The prosecution had asked for a three-year sentence.

The defence asked the court to reduce the charges from"aggravated theft" to "misappropriation" and for him to befreed.

Paolo Gabriele had earlier told the court in his last appealthat he had acted exclusively out of deep, "visceral" love forthe Roman Catholic Church and the pope.

The head of the three-judge panel, speaking "In the name ofHoliness," said Gabriele had abused the pontiff's trust in him.

The judge said he had given Gabriele a lighter sentence thanthe three years sought by the prosecution because he had noprevious criminal record.

Gabriele's lawyer told reporters he would be returned tohouse arrest in the Vatican for the time being. She said shewould decide after she hears the court's formal explanation ofits verdict whether to file an appeal.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella and Naomi O'Leary)



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