Australian court orders Vatican treasurer Pell to stand trial over historical sexual offences

MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Vatican Treasurer George Pell must face trial on charges of historical sexual offences, an Australian court ruled yesterday.

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.

In delivering her ruling, Wallington dismissed some of the charges levelled against Pell in the pre-trial hearing and has not specified which ones will proceed, nor has she provided detail on the date of the trial.

Pell, 76, is on a leave of absence from his role as economy minister to Pope Francis.

He has not entered a plea, though his lawyers have previously said he would plead not guilty to all charges if the court proceeds to a full trial.

Pell has been directing media inquiries to the Sydney Archdiocese, his last employer before he took the Vatican posting.

The Sydney Archdiocese had no immediate comment on Tuesday.

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

The prosecution alleged during the pre-trial hearing that Pell’s offences took place at a swimming pool and a movie theatre in Victoria state, a church and other locations.

But Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, wrapped up four weeks of questioning accusers and witnesses by arguing there was no evidence to support the charges against his client.

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