Aussie court to rule on cleric’s fate

Source:Reuters Published: 2020/4/2 22:18:41

Protesters hold placards outside the court building as Australian Cardinal George Pell is escorted into the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne. Photo: AFP

Ex-Vatican treasurer George Pell will learn on Tuesday ­whether he can walk free from jail, when Australia's highest court hands down its judgment on his appeal against historical child sex offences.

The decision will likely bring to an end the long-­running prosecution of the cardinal for sexually assaulting two teenaged choirboys in the 1990s when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. Pell is the highest ranking Catholic worldwide to be jailed for child sex offences.

The High Court of Australia said it would deliver its judgment at 10 am on Tuesday.

The court could overturn his conviction, in which case Pell would walk free, or it could dismiss the appeal, leaving him in jail. The case could also be sent back to a lower court, but legal experts considered that a slim possibility.

Pell was convicted by a jury in December 2018 on one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four charges of an indecent act with a child under 16. He was sentenced to six years in prison and lost an appeal against his conviction in a lower court in August 2019.

His appeal to the High Court was heard by seven justices over two days in March, during which numerous questions about the prosecution's case were raised.


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