Australian press denies contempt for reporting Cardinal Pell trial
Journalists and media groups in Australia defended themselves today from the indictment filed by the prosecution for reporting on the pedophilia trial against Cardinal George Pell in violation of a court order.
The lawsuit concerns 23 journalists and 13 groups, including The Herald, Weekly Times or News Life who face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and economic fines.
All of them are accused of "harming or interfering with the proper administration of justice" for reporting the verdict of a case against the prelate when he was still facing a second cause or for helping foreign media to do so.
At the beginning of the trial against Pell the judge imposed a ban on reporting on the process, including the number and type of charges the cardinal was accused of, to all media of any format accessible in Australia.
At the first hearing in Melbourne court, the lawyer representing the defendants, Matthew Collins, said today that a conviction would have a "discouraging effect" for open justice in the country, according to the local agency AAP today.
Collins requested more time to organize the defense and asked the prosecution to specify some accusations that he questioned.
"None of the publications or issues named Pell and he did not even identify the charges for which he was found guilty," the lawyer said, according to AAP.
"Nowhere is it said what the defendants are said to have done, which is necessary for a contempt of this kind," Collins said at the hearing in which none of the defendants appeared.
Judge John Dixon ordered the prosecution to provide a more detailed statement of his indictment before May 20 and set June 26 to resume the case.
Pell, 77, was found guilty in December of five pedophile crimes, one of them by oral penetration, against two children of the cathedral choir of Melbourne in the 1990s.
Several international media reported the verdict but the Australian media had to submit to the information blackout due to restrictions that the judge lifted on February 26, when the second case against the ex-number 3 of the Vatican was dismissed.
The cardinal was sentenced on March 13 to six years in prison for the five crimes of sexual abuse of minors.