Australia

Cardinal Pell: Police given new information in sex assault case

Cardinal George Pell attends court in Melbourne on Tuesday Image copyright EPA
Image caption Cardinal George Pell attends a court in Melbourne on Tuesday

Fresh information about Cardinal George Pell has been given to police, a court hearing into sexual assault allegations against him has heard.

Cardinal Pell, 76, is facing a hearing in Australia that will determine if he stands trial on sexual assault charges.

He has strongly denied what authorities have called historical allegations involving "multiple complainants".

On Tuesday, the cardinal's lawyer said he did not know whether new information would lead to additional charges.

Cardinal Pell took a leave of absence from his role as Vatican treasurer last year to fight the charges in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

The current hearing, known as a committal, is expected to continue until at least next week.

Development 'problematic', lawyer says

On Tuesday, the Catholic cleric's lawyer, Robert Richter QC, said that a witness had submitted a new statement to police on Monday.

The same witness had been due to be cross-examined in court on Tuesday, but Mr Richter succeeded in having the testimony postponed.

"Whether charges are to be laid or not... it should not be part of this committal [hearing] at this stage," Mr Richter told the court, according to The Age newspaper.

Mr Richter described the new statement as "problematic", saying his legal team would need time to investigate it.

The full details of the allegations against Cardinal Pell have not been made public.

In an open hearing on Monday, the court heard that separate allegations related to a cinema and a swimming pool.

A cinema worker testified that he had no recollection of seeing Cardinal Pell at a screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1978.

Another witness said he had never seen Cardinal Pell do anything "untoward" at a swimming pool.

Much of the committal hearing has been closed to the public.

When the hearing concludes, Magistrate Belinda Wallington will decide whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to a trial.

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