Vatican finance chief to learn of trial fate next month

Australian cardinal George Pell reads a statement to reporters as he leaves the Quirinale hotel after meeting members of the Australian group of relatives and victims of priestly sex abuses, in Rome, Italy. A lawyer for the most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis told an Australian court on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 that Pell could have been targeted with false accusations to punish him for the crimes of other clerics. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Vatican finance chief to learn of trial fate next month

  • Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell's barrister has argued the case should be thrown out of court
  • The defendant is the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged with criminal offenses linked to the Church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal

MELBOURNE: Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell will find out next month if he will stand trial on sexual offense charges, as his lawyer argued Tuesday the cleric was being targeted to punish the Catholic Church.
Pell, a top adviser to Pope Francis, is accused of multiple historic offenses relating to incidents that allegedly occurred years ago. He took leave to return to Australia to fight the allegations being heard in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.
The court said magistrate Belinda Wallington would deliver her decision on whether the case should proceed to trial on May 1.
It followed a weeks-long committal hearing involving witness statements and cross-examinations by Pell’s lawyers. He was not present for Tuesday’s final hearing.
His barrister Robert Richter told the court the case should be thrown out as the complainants were unreliable and not credible, Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported.
He added that the allegations were “the product of fantasy or mental health problems... or pure invention in order to punish the representative of the Catholic Church in this country for not stopping child abuse by others of children.”
“Cardinal Pell has been seen as the face of that responsibility,” he said.
Prosecutor Mark Gibson said while there were conflicts in the testimony of witnesses, they were for a jury to decide on, adding that nothing Richter referred to “amounts to a defect in the evidence,” Melbourne’s The Age reported.
Pell, 76, a former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop, is the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged with criminal offenses linked to the Church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal.
The exact details and nature of the allegations have not been made public, other than they involve “multiple complainants.”


Iran lodges complaint against US over renewed sanctions

Updated 1 min 20 sec ago
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Iran lodges complaint against US over renewed sanctions

  • The complaint came in response to Washington’s decision in May to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions
  • Tehran says the action violates international obligations, including the 1955 US-Iran Treaty of Amity

TEHRAN: Iran has lodged a complaint with the International Court of Justice against the United States’ reimposition of sanctions, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The complaint was registered the previous day, spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on the ministry’s website.
The goal is “to hold US accountable for its unlawful re-imposition of unilateral sanctions,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
“Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of US contempt for diplomacy and legal obligations. It’s imperative to counter its habit of violating (international) law,” he added.
The complaint came in response to Washington’s decision in May to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran.
Tehran says the action violates international obligations, including the 1955 US-Iran Treaty of Amity — an agreement signed well before Iran’s 1979 revolution, but which is still invoked in ongoing legal battles.
Iran and the US have not had diplomatic relations since 1980 when American embassy officials were held hostage in Iran.
Nuclear-related sanctions will be reimposed by Washington in two phases in August and November, seeking to bar European and other foreign companies from doing business with Iran and blocking its oil sales abroad.
The ICJ is already due to hear a complaint on October 8 that Iran lodged two years ago against the United States for freezing around $2 billion (1.7 billion euros) of its assets held abroad.