By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
Melbourne, Australia (CNN) Cardinal George Pell, who was once one of the most powerful men in the Roman Catholic Church, could be released from prison this week, if an Australian appeals court overturns his conviction for historical sexual abuse.
Pell, 77, was sentenced to six years in prison in March for what Judge Peter Kidd described as a “callous” attack on two choirboys at Melbourne’s historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the mid-1990s, when he was archbishop of that city.
The former Vatican treasurer was found guilty of one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of an indecent act with or in the presence of a child in the late 1990s during a secret trial late last year. The verdict was suppressed until February to avoid prejudicing a possible second trial, which did not go ahead.
Pell is expected to be in court on Wednesday when his barrister, Bret Walker SC, tries to persuade a panel of appeal judges to overturn his conviction on three grounds, including that the guilty verdict was “unsafe,” because the evidence could not have convinced a jury beyond reasonable doubt.
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