Australian Cardinal George Pell could walk from court today or be sent back to prison to serve the rest of his six-year term, depending on the outcome of his appeal against his child sex abuse convictions.
A jury found the 78-year old guilty last December of sexually abusing two choirboys when he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
The verdicts made Pell, who had been serving as the Treasurer at the Vatican, the highest-ranked Catholic cleric ever convicted of child sex abuse.
Pell’s central ground of appeal was that the guilty verdicts were unreasonable because there was insufficient evidence for a jury to have been satisfied of his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
His appeal was heard over two days in June and after scrutinising the arguments the three judges have now made their decision.
The Victorian Court of Appeal judges will today hand down their decision.
The judgment will be heard in one of the Supreme Court’s biggest rooms and an extra room has been set aside for journalists who cannot fit in the court to watch the proceedings live.
Today’s decision is almost certainly not the end of the legal proceedings, the ABC reports.
If the court finds the jury got it wrong and Pell’s convictions are quashed, Victorian prosecutors could appeal against that decision in the High Court.
The same goes for Pell’s legal team if the appeal is dismissed entirely – they could take that decision to the High Court.
Either way, the country’s top court would first have to decide there are grounds for the case to be heard.
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