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.”


“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 6 min 16 sec ago
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“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.