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.”


41 people injured in Japan restaurant explosion

Updated 16 December 2018
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41 people injured in Japan restaurant explosion

  • The explosion occurred in Sapporo, the capital city of Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido
  • Police said 41 people were injured, most of them mildly, though one was in serious condition

TOKYO: More than 40 people were injured in an explosion Sunday night at a restaurant in northern Japan, police said.
The explosion occurred in Sapporo, the capital city of Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido.
Police said 41 people were injured, most of them mildly, though one was in serious condition. They were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment.
The cause of the explosion, which occurred at a two-story restaurant in Sapporo’s Toyohira district, is under investigation, police said, adding that they had no further details.
TV footage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed the restaurant in flames, with debris scattered on the ground.
The footage showed gray smoke billowing from the restaurant as dozens of firefighters poured water onto the building, which was charred and nearly collapsing. Windows on an apartment building next door were broken.
A witness told NHK that he smelled gas after the sound of an explosion.