A Vatican judge has ordered an investigation of the Holy See's police force after Pope Benedict's former butler said he was held in a tiny room with the light on constantly for the first few weeks of his detention, according to an AFP/Reuters report published by the ABC.
The judge ordered the investigation after Paolo Gabriele and his lawyer made the assertions on the second day of the trial where he is accused of aggravated theft.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the dimensions of the cell were in line with international standards and said Gabriele's charges "raise a few queries."
Gabriele, who is on trial for stealing papal documents alleging corruption in the Vatican and leaking them to the media, told the trial he did not have any direct accomplices but was influenced by others and by widespread malaise in the Vatican.
"Concerning the accusation of aggravated theft, I declare myself innocent," Gabriele said in his first comments since his arrest in May.
"I feel guilty for having betrayed the trust that the Holy Father gave me, whom I love like a son."
The ex-butler told judges he had been driven to act because he believed the pope was being "manipulated."
The Tablet reports that a senior canon lawyer and member of the Vatican's supreme court has hinted that Pope Benedict XVI will pardon his former butler.
Cardinal Velasio De Paolis told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that there was precedent for the Pope to pardon Gabriele, citing the case of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish man who tried to assassinate John Paul II.
Vatican orders probe after butler claims abuse (ABC)
Cardinal and canon lawyer hints at papal pardon for butler (Tablet)
Butler pleads innocent (CNA)
Butler says he's innocent of theft but guilty of betraying the pope (CNS)