IN THE DOCK: Cardinal George Pell. Picture: AP
IN THE DOCK: Cardinal George Pell. Picture: AP

Aussie court orders Vatican official to stand trial

By Reuters Time of article published May 2, 2018

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MELBOURNE: Vatican treasurer George Pell must face trial on charges of historical sexual offences, an Australian court ruled yesterday, making him the most senior Catholic official to be tried on such allegations. He pleaded not guilty.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington handed down her decision that Pell's case will proceed to trial in a Melbourne court, following a month-long pre-trial hearing.

Pell did not comment when he left the court, surrounded by police and flanked by his legal team.

A statement issued by Pell's lawyers and distributed by the Sydney Archdiocese, his last employer before his Vatican posting in 2014, said Pell had fully co-operated with police investigating the allegations “and always and steadfastly maintained his innocence”.

Pell has been ordered to appear in the Melbourne County Court today, when it will be decided how and when the case will proceed.

Pell, 76, is on a leave of absence from his role as economy minister to Pope Francis. He sat quietly behind his lawyer, wearing a black suit with a clergyman’s collar, as the magistrate's decision was read out over 90 minutes.

The pope has said he would not comment on the case until it was over.

During the pre-trial hearing, Pell's defence raised questions about police procedure, the reliability of witnesses' memories and their psychological condition.

Prosecution had said none of the complainants had resiled from their allegations against Pell and Victoria police refuted Richter’s suggestions of serious flaws in the investigation. - Reuters

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