Cardinal George Pell – the time of trial begins

Cardinal George Pell appeared briefly at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with historic sex offences.

No formal plea was entered although Pell’s legal team lead, Robert Richter, told the magistrate:

“For the avoidance of doubt … Cardinal Pell will plead not guilty to all charges, and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has.”

This will be the first of several court appearances for the 76-year-old Pell.  His appearance in court on Wednesday was mainly to set out a timetable for future hearings.

The magistrate set the date of 8 September for the prosecutors to give their evidence to Pell’s legal team and a day in October when he will reappear in court.

At the October hearing the magistrate will decide whether there is a strong enough case to go to trial.

Pell, who is on leave from his position as the Vatican treasurer, is the highest-ranked Catholic prelate to face sexual abuse charges.

Intense media interest has focused on him since the abuse charges were laid.

Hundreds of journalists from the U.S., Europe, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australian media groups as well as members of the public crowded around the courthouse, almost mobbing Pell and his legal team as they entered and left the building.

Others packed the small courtroom for the short court hearing. Most of the 60 or so people crammed into public seating were journalists.

The magistrate refused media requests to issue details of charges.



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