Vatican finance chief to learn of trial fate next month

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MELBOURNE: Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell will find out next month if he will stand trial on sexual offense charges, as his lawyer argued on Tuesday the cleric was being targeted to punish the Catholic Church. Pell, a top adviser to Pope Francis, is accused of multiple historic offenses relating to incidents that allegedly occurred years ago. He took leave to return to Australia to fight the allegations being heard in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. The court said magistrate Belinda Wallington would deliver her decision on whether the case should proceed to trial on May 1. It followed a weeks-long committal hearing involving witness statements and cross-examinations by Pell’s lawyers. He was not present for Tuesday’s final hearing. His barrister Robert Richter told the court the case should be thrown out as the complainants were unreliable and not credible, Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported. Pell, 76, a former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop, is the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged with criminal offenses linked to the Church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal.

AFP

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