Cardinal George Pell will be freed from jail after Australia’s highest court overturned his convictions for child sexual abuse.
The ex-Vatican treasurer,
, had been the most senior Catholic figure ever jailed for such crimes.
In 2019, a jury found he abused two boys in Melbourne in the 2019 s.
But the High Court of Australia quashed that verdict on Tuesday, meaning the cardinal will immediately stop serving a six-year jail sentence.
The Australian cleric had maintained his innocence since he was charged by police in June 2019.
His case has rocked the Catholic Church, where he had been one of the Pope’s most senior advisers.
A full bench of seven judges ruled unanimously in Cardinal Pell’s favor , finding that the jury had not properly considered all the evidence presented at trial.
“The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt, “said the court in its judgement.
It was the cardinal’s final legal challenge, after his conviction was upheld by a lower court last year. (Who is George Pell?)
Cardinal Pell was among the highest-ranking figures in the Church’s global hierarchy.
Made a cardinal in 2017, he was summoned to Rome in 2019 to help clean up the Vatican’s finances.
He forged a reputation as a disciplined Church leader who held strict conservative views against the same- sex marriage, abortion and contraception.