Australia’s highest court has reversed sentence six-year prison sentence imposed on Cardinal George Pell, ex-treasurer of the Vatican, for sexual abuse committed against two minors in the 90s.
The plenary of the judges of the High Court of Australia has considered that there was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt with the required level of evidence,” according to the decision obtained by Efe, which it cannot be appealed.
The pedophilia case against the former Vatican Finance Minister, ranked as number 3 of the Holy See, was based on the testimony of one of the two victims, who denounced him in 2014 after the other alleged victim of abuse died from an overdose.
The 78-year-old cardinal was in Barwon Prison, some 68 kilometers south of the city of Melbourne. In a statement released before his release, Pell has said he does not “hold a grudge” for the person who accused him, nor does he want the acquittal “to add more pain and bitterness” to that already experienced by victims of sexual abuse. “I have consistently upheld my innocence while I suffered serious injustice and this has been resolved by the unanimous decision of the Superior Court,” said the cardinal.
Unlike other moments in the process of pedophilia against the highest Catholic hierarchy in Australia, there will be no massive expressions either for or against Pell due to the restrictions imposed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
In August the sentence was ratified
Pell’s team of lawyers, led by Bret Walker, argued that the decision of the judges of the Superior Court of the state of Victoria, which ratified last August the sentence issued by a judge of a lower instance after a jury found guilty, it was beyond reasonable doubt.
According to the defense, the two judges who ratified the sentence (while another chose to reverse it) made a mistake in requiring Pell to prove his innocence in the face of the crimes attributed to him. The Superior Court also considered that the jury “should have doubted the guilt of the defendant with respect to each of the crimes for which he was convicted.”
Pell was convicted in March 2019 of five counts of sexual abuse, including one of oral penetration, committed against two children in the St Patrick’s Cathedral choir in 1996 and 1997, when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.
This week, the local ABC network released two new testimonies of alleged victims of sexual abuse by Pell that are related to a cause that was shelved on the allegations made against the cardinal and that date back to the 1970s, when he was a priest in his hometown of Ballarat in southern Australia.