Pope's former butler will not appeal sentence

* Ex butler in house arrest awaiting probable papal pardon

* Some of leaked documents alleged corruption in the Vatican

* Many commentators say he could not have acted alone

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict's former butler who leaked sensitive Vatican documents, believes his sentence of 18 months under house arrest is fair and will not appeal it, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Cristiana Arru told Reuters that Gabriele wanted the sentence, handed down last Saturday when he was convicted of aggravated theft, to stand because he thought it was reasonable.

"Paolo had decided from the start decided that he wanted to pay the consequences for his actions. If we appealed, it would mean the opposite," she said.

The prosecution had asked for a three-year sentence but the court gave him half that because he had no previous criminal record.

Gabriele will be serving the sentence under house arrest in the apartment in the Vatican where he lives with his family.

The pope, who reigns as a sovereign monarch in Vatican City, is widely expected to pardon Gabriele, meaning he will be released from detention. He is expected to continue working in the Vatican but in a lower-level job.

Gabriele said during the trial that he did not consider himself a thief but leaked documents that alleged corruption in the Vatican out of what he called a "visceral" love for the Church and the pope.

However, Gabriele's swift conviction by the court after only four sessions left lingering suspicions that he may have been a pawn in a much larger Vatican intrigue involving infighting in the papal court.

The documents he leaked constituted one of the biggest crises of Benedict's papacy, embarrassing the Vatican as it struggled to overcome a string of child sex abuse scandals involving clerics and mismanagement at its bank.

Gabriele told investigators he had acted because he saw "evil and corruption everywhere in the Church" and that information was being hidden from the pope.

In pre-trial testimony Gabriele acknowledged he had come under the influence of several Vatican officials, including a confessor to whom he gave copies of sensitive documents. The confessor later destroyed them.

But he said those who influenced him could not be considered "accomplices" and the panel of three judges did not pursue other lines of questioning regarding possible help he may have received.

Many commentators believe that Gabriele, who served the pope his meals and helped him dress, could not have acted alone.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Michael Roddy)


Keywords: POPE BUTLER/