Vatican charges Pope's butler over possession of secret documents

The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele (bottom L) arrives with Pope Benedict XVI (R) at St. Peter's Square earlier this year. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Vatican magistrates have formally charged Pope Benedict's butler with illegal possession of secret documents and said a wider investigation would take place to see if he had any accomplices who helped him leak them.

A statement referred to Paolo Gabriele, 46, who was Benedict's butler until he was arrested on Wednesday, as "the defendant".

It said a preliminary investigation had been upgraded to a "formal investigation," meaning he had been formally charged.