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In opening arguments, Cardinal Pell’s lawyers set out case for appeal

The legal team for Cardinal George Pell set out its case for appeal at the Supreme Court of Victoria Wednesday morning. Judges heard the opening arguments for the defense as they sought leave to appeal.

Bret Walker SC, arguing on June 4, told the three-judge Court of Appeal, led by Chief Justice Anne Feguson, that Pell was seeking leave to appeal on the grounds that his conviction by a jury was “unsafe.”

In a controversial verdict, the cardinal was convicted in on December 11 of five counts of sexual abuse of minors.

Pell’s legal team is seeking appeal on three separate grounds, the first of which is that a guilty verdict was returned despite the lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt. If successful, an appeal on that ground would see Pell’s conviction overturned and the cardinal set free.

In March, Pell was sentenced to six years in prison.

The secondary appeals, made on more procedural grounds, could lead to a retrial if successful.

At the opening of the two-day hearing, Justice Ferguson noted that the judges had reviewed the evidence from the trial, visited Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and inspected the vestments Pell is alleged to have been wearing at the time of the supposed abuse.

Ferguson explained that the purpose of the hearing was not to re-litigate the trial, or for the defense or prosecution to present the whole of its argument, which had been submitted in writing.

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