TODAY | October 03, 2012
>> a big trial in italy capturing global attention. the pope's former butler is accused of stealing thousands of private papal document. on tuesday he told the court why he did it. nbc's michelle kosinski is in rome this morning. michelle, good morning to you.
>> reporter: hi, david, yeah. here we have the pope's right-hand man accused of stealing the pope's personal letters and documents, copying them, leaking them to the press. when this first broke it was described like something out of a shadowy novel full of high-level intrigue, but now it kind of reads more like a bizarre heist. this was paulo gabriele in his coveted role, one of poeb benedict's closest aides. now the butler is accused in a vatican courtroom charged with stealing a large number of the pep's personal letters and documents, some refer to infighting over things like construction contracts, alleged cronyism and transparency, a rare peek inside vatican justice. gabriele has admitted taking the documents but testified he doesn't feel guilty of a crime, only betraying the trust of a man he loves like a father. he told prosecutors seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the church, i was sure that a shock, even a media one, would have been healthy to bring the church back on the right track.
>> he was a known and trusted person, and so he spoke to many people about many different issues of concern that he said they came to him with.
>> reporter: on the stand, gabriele described talking to the pope. i realized it's easy thoma nip late somebody with such enormous decision-making power. sometimes he would ask questions about situations he should have been aware of. he claims to have had no accomplices which has been a huge question ever since an italian journalist published many of these documents.
>> paulo gabriele did say he acted alone but did say there were circumstances that helped him do what he did, giving away the documents, having the documents published and actually mentioned several names, two cardinals and a german woman and one other italian bishop.
>> reporter: but here the devil has also been in the less significant details. gabriele says when he was arrested he was held for two weeks in isolation in a cell so small he couldn't even extend his arms, the light on all day and night . yet authorities say in gabriele's home they also found a gold nugget , a document dating back to the 1500s . gabriele said he prout it home to show his kids and a check for more than $100,000, a gift from the university to the pope. one other vatican staffer is accused of holding -- umts for gabriele after the fact, but his role is considered very minor, so on this saturday this tribunal will decide gabriele's fate. he could face four years in prison but everybody you talk to here fully expects the pope to pardon him, and as if this wasn't enough going on around here. take a look at this video yesterday. an italian man jumped over a railing, out on to the dome of st. peters. he's protesting austerity measures in the eurozone, and there he remains at this moment. david?
>> wow, michelle kosinski , thanks very