VATICAN CITY, SEP 3, 2007 (VIS) – Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration at midday today:

“At around 7.30 a.m. today Alessandro Benedetti, aged 26 and a member of the Corps of the Gendarmerie of Vatican City State, was found in a bathroom of the Gendarmerie’s barracks in a very grave condition with a gunshot wound. The young man was taken immediately to Santo Spirito Hospital where he died at around 9 a.m.

“Initial evidence would seem to suggest that the young man committed suicide. A note found on the scene is currently being studied by Vatican magistrates who are following the case and who will examine the information that emerges from the autopsy which has been requested by the Italian coroner.

“Alessandro Benedetti was recruited into the Corps of the Gendarmerie last April as a ‘gendarme cadet’ following the usual psychological aptitude selection process, also concerning the handling of weapons

“His behavior had not, until now, given cause for concern.

“The Holy Father learnt the news with great sadness. He entrusts young Alessandro to the mercy of God, and remains spiritually close to the Benedetti family and to the members of the Gendarmerie.”

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