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Vatican treasurer in Australian court on sex offence charges

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Vatican treasurer in Australian court on sex offence charges

Cardinal George Pell arrives at Melbourne Magistrates Court in Melbourne
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AAP/Stefan Postles/via REUTERS
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Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell arrived in court in Australia on Monday for the start of a four-week pre-trial hearing on charges of historical sexual offences.

Pell, 76, a top adviser to Pope Francis, did not speak as he was escorted to Melbourne Magistrates' Court by police through a group of media and protesters.

His lawyers have said in the past he would plead not guilty to all charges. The details of the allegations have not been made public.

Court authorities have said they will close the court in Melbourne to the public for most of the first two weeks to protect the privacy of people giving evidence.

Pell is on a leave of absence from his Vatican role as Pope Francis' economy minister, which he started in 2014. The pontiff has said he will not comment on the case until it is over.