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Up To 50 Witnesses Could Be Called For George Pell's Committal Hearing

The committal hearing next March will determine if there’s enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

06/10/2017 10:08 AM AEDT | Updated 06/10/2017 10:29 AM AEDT
Joe Armao, Fairfax Media.
George Pell pictured before appearing at the Magistrates court.

As many as 50 witnesses are expected to be called during a four-week committal hearing next year for Cardinal George Pell, who is facing multiple historical sexual abuse charges.

The third-most senior Vatican official appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Friday for a brief hearing, when it was decided the former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop should return on March 5 for a hearing to decide if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.

The 76-year-old has been charged with multiple historical sex offence charges involving multiple complainants.

His lawyers have previously indicated he will plead not guilty to all charges.

The highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse on Friday moved at a slow pace accompanied by police when he arrived at court.

He did not react as a protester called out abuse, and he was also heckled as he left the court.

About 30 journalists and camera operators had lined up outside the building from 6am, with police guarding the court's entrance.

The committal hearing next March will determine if there's enough evidence for the case to go to trial in the Victorian County Court.

The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop and Ballarat priest has taken leave from his position as Vatican treasurer to return to Australia to defend himself.

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