Pell to make case for abuse charges as 'impossible' at March hearing

Alex Mendieta Gold buyers Melbourne is raided by the police. 5th October 2017 Fairfax Media The Age news

Alex Mendieta Gold buyers Melbourne is raided by the police. 5th October 2017 Fairfax Media The Age news

He appeared at Melbourne Magistrates' Court today [Friday] after being charged by detectives from Victoria Police in June.

"For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest, I might indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has", Mr Richter said at the time.

A huge media scrum followed Pell as he arrived and left court on Friday and supporters and protestors crowded for a chance to see the cardinal.

Cardinal George Pell will face his second court hearing in Australia on Friday on charges of sexual assault.

Up to 50 witnesses are expected to give evidence.

Cardinal Pell is the most senior Catholic official to face court on sex offence charges.

Pope Francis' top financial adviser stands accused of multiple offenses involving multiple complainants, but the exact details of the alleged offenses have been withheld from the public for legal reasons. "We want to demonstrate that what was alleged was impossible", he told the court.

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The court heard at least 55 witnesses had made statements to police.

Legal observers in Australia say they assume Pell will have to stand trial, since roughly 95 percent of cases at the Magistrate's Court level proceed to trial.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington refused Mr Richter's application to cross-examine five witnesses, but approved all others.

Dozens of witnesses, including former choirboys, will be called during a preliminary hearing that prosecutors estimate will last four weeks.

He has not been required to enter a plea yet but during his first appearance at the same court during the summer he asked his lawyer to explain he meant to plead not guilty.

Cardinal Pell photographed in Sydney in August this year. He did not react as he made his way down the steps.

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