Melbourne, Australia, Apr 17, 2018 / 13:47 pm
As Cardinal George Pell’s pre-trial hearing closes, his lawyer told an Australian court Tuesday that the charges being brought against the cardinal is based on false accusations.
“The allegations are a product of fantasy, the product of some mental problems that the complainant may or may not have, or just pure invention in order to punish the representative of the Catholic Church in this country,” Robert Richter, head of Pell’s defense team, said April 17, according to Reuters.
Richter added that the most serious of the alleged offences could not possibly have occurred, telling the court that the charges brought against Pell, who has been “the face” of the Catholic Church in Australia, “ought to be regarded as impossible and ought to be discharged without batting an eyelid.”
Pell’s attorney additionally cast a shadow over the credibility of some of the complainants, highlighting their inconsistencies with dates, saying that the alleged instances of abuse are “not to be believed,” because they remain “improbable, if not impossible.”
Richter told the court that Pell, who is prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, should not be committed to trial because the evidence did not hold “sufficient weight to support a conviction,” and that a trial would “be a waste of public time, effort and money.”
Prosecutor Mark Gibson said Richter’s statements were speculation, remarking that the defense's arguments do not “fundamentally impact on the reliability of the complainants’ evidence.” He also suggested that Richter’s claims about complainants seeking revenge on the Church were “nothing more than a theory.”
Magistrate Belinda Wallington said that Richter may have taken some arguments “too far,” saying that she believes “issues of credibility and reliability are issues for a jury.”
Pell was not present during the hearing's final day at the Melbourne Magistrates Court. Wallington will determine May 1 whether Pell will be sent to trial.