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Australia Cardinal George Pell's first week in court ends behind closed doors

01:37  10 march  2018
01:37  10 march  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

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The police presence has diminished and the international media has dissolved as the first week of an expected four-week committal hearing for Cardinal George Pell draws to a close .

Cardinal George Pell ' s committal hearing has sat for the past week , mainly behind a closed door . The court was emptied of the media and public just 25 minutes after the hearing began last Monday to allow the multiple complainants to begin giving evidence. It left Cardinal Pell , one of his friends, his

Crowds outside Cardinal Pell's committal hearing had eased by the end of the week.© Provided by ABC News Crowds outside Cardinal Pell's committal hearing had eased by the end of the week.

The police presence has diminished, the international media has dissolved and less than a handful of supporters and detractors occupy the steps of the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

But despite appearances, it is the end of the first week of one of the most anticipated hearings of the year as Australia's highest-ranking Catholic cleric fights historical sexual offence charges.

Cardinal George Pell's committal hearing has sat for the past week, mainly behind a closed door.

The court was emptied of the media and public just 25 minutes after the hearing began last Monday to allow the multiple complainants to begin giving evidence.

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One of the most anticipated court cases of the year is playing out behind closed doors this week , but that hasn't meant its high-profile defendant is completely shielded from public view. Cardinal George Pell arrives for the second day of his committal hearing.

The first half of the hearing that determines whether Cardinal George Pell stands trial on historical sex offences will be closed to the public, when his alleged victims give evidence over a period of up to 10 days. George Pell leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in October.

It left Cardinal Pell, one of his friends, his legal team, prosecutors, the magistrate, her clerk and police informant to witness the alleged victims give their evidence and be cross-examined for the first time.

The complainants appeared via video link accompanied by a worker from the witness assistance program. They were offered the support of therapy dog Coop, trained especially to help alleged victims through the court process.

It is not known how many people have given evidence or are yet to come.

Just a few journalists remained outside the court's closed door for the entirety of the week, catching only small snippets of information such as the hearing adjourning early for the day or not sitting the next because a witness was not available.

By the third day of the hearing, only two camera crews and a photographer were waiting outside to capture Cardinal Pell's arrival and departure.

But the hordes of local and international media are expected to return in a week's time when the complainants finish giving their evidence and the court reopens.

Up to 50 witnesses will be called during what's expected to be a four-week hearing which is set to conclude on March 29.

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