Apr 7 (.) – The Supreme Court of Australia acquitted former Vatican treasurer George Pell on Tuesday of charges of sexually assaulting two underage choir members in the 1990s, after which the 78-year-old cardinal years he was released after 404 days in jail.
The Australian court ordered the annulment of Pell’s convictions and the enforcement instead of the respective acquittal verdicts, ending the case of far-reaching sexual abuse in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.
The seven judges who make up the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the jury for the trial of the cardinal “should have given him the benefit of the doubt” regarding his guilt. Pell, who has insisted on his innocence throughout the lengthy judicial process, will not be able to be tried again on the same charges.
“I do not harbor ill will against my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the pain and bitterness that so many feel. Certainly enough pain and bitterness has already been caused,” Pell said in a statement shortly before his release from prison. Barwon maximum security, near Melbourne.
The Vatican did not comment on a verdict that comes in the middle of Easter, the period leading up to Easter or Resurrection, the most important day in the Christian calendar.
(Information from Sonali Paul; edited by Jane Wardell; translated by Darío Fernández in the Gdansk newsroom)