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Up to 50 witnesses for Cardinal Pell sex abuse hearing

• https://www.thelocal.it, AFP

The 76-year-old, a top adviser to Pope Francis, is accused of multiple historical sexual offences relating to incidents that allegedly occurred long ago.

He is the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged with criminal offences linked to the church's long-running sexual abuse scandal.

The exact details and nature of the allegations against Pell have not been made public, other than they involve "multiple complainants".

Pell has not had to enter a plea yet, but at his first appearance at the Melbourne Magistrates Court in July he instructed his lawyer to make clear he intended to plead not guilty.

"For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest, I might indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain the presumed innocence that he has," barrister Robert Richter said at the time.

A frail-looking Pell returned to the same court Friday for a largely administrative hearing in which March 5 was set for the start of a four-week committal hearing to decide if there is enough evidence from the prosecution
for the case to go to trial.

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