Cardinal Pell fights for acquittal © Erik Anderson
The appeal process in the George Pell case has begun in Melbourne. The cardinal was found guilty by a jury of sexual abuse and harassment. Now Pell is fighting for an acquittal.
In 1996, Pell allegedly abused a 13-year-old boy and molested another while serving as Melbourne's archbishop. In March, the 77-year-old was therefore sentenced to six years in prison. Pell is the world's highest-ranking Catholic cleric to be convicted of sexual abuse by a secular court.
Pell outwardly calm
Unlike the criminal case against Pell, the appeals process is open to the media and streamed live on the appeals court's website. The camera is directed at the three judges, while Pell as well as journalists and spectators in the hall are not to be seen. Pell had appeared outwardly calm and in good health, court reporters reported Wednesday (local time).
Pell's defense attorney, Bret Walker, had presented the court with three grounds for appeal. Central to the case is the accusation that the former Vatican finance chief was found guilty solely on the basis of statements made by one of the victims. The testimony took place in camera and is known only to those directly involved in the process.
Pell himself had not testified in the criminal case on the advice of his defense attorneys. In his argument before the court, the lawyer said that in the criminal proceedings it had not been possible to clarify the exact date of the acts of which Pell was accused.
Appeal process to end Thursday
The appeal proceedings are scheduled to end on Thursday with the second day of hearings. Judges will need weeks or months to reach a decision, experts say.
If the appeals court grants the first ground of appeal, Pell's conviction would be overturned. If the court accepts the second or third grounds of appeal, which involve procedural errors, a new trial would have to be scheduled. His 78. Birthday on Saturday Pell will celebrate in prison in any case.