Australian high court defers decision on Pell appeal
March 12, 2020
After a two-day hearing on an appeal of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s supreme court has indicated that it will decide at a later date whether or not to allow the appeal.
If the court decides to accept the appeal, it will move immediately to decide whether or not to overturn the cardinal’s conviction. No date was given for the court’s decision.
Cardinal Pell’s lawyer argued that if the conviction is overturned, the cardinal—who has already served more than a year in prison—should be acquitted and released. Prosecutors disagreed, saying that the case should be returned to a lower court for a third trial.
The decision to withhold a ruling is typical of the Australian court’s procedures. The court asked attorneys to submit written materials, complementing their oral arguments, within the next two days.
The cardinal’s lawyer told the court that an appeals court had erred by placing the burden of proof on the accused prelate, rather than requiring the prosecution to provide convincing evidence of his guilt. In the appeal, the cardinal’s lawyer emphasized that the prosecution case was based entirely on the evidence of a single witness, whose testimony was countered by multiple other witnesses.
Cardinal Pell was not allowed to attend the court hearing.
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