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Rome Reports

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Card. George Pell's appeal begins


George Pell was handed down a six-year prison sentence for allegedly abusing two altar boys in the sacristy of Melbourne Cathedral in 1996. The verdict was made public in February and caused a great deal of commotion. He is the highest-ranking official in the Catholic Church sentenced to prison on abuse charges.

However, the Cardinal presented an appeal which will be examined between Wednesday and Thursday. Three judges will evaluate whether the alleged victim's accusation should be upheld. 

Pell's defense has vigorously stressed there is no evidence the crime ever occurred. The alleged victim's version does not present any solid evidence and relies solely on his testimony.

The defense's argument would not prove Pell's innocence outright, but acknowledge that the first conviction was made without any reliable evidence. It may be weeks before a new verdict is issued and this would not end the legal battle. If one of the parties believes that their case still has merit, they can appeal to the High Court of Australia.

For the time being, the Holy See has taken precautionary measures. Pell is prohibited from exercising his priestly ministry in public and from contacting minors.