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Former Vatican treasurer loses appeal against sexual abuse convictions

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Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by Australian police as he leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia, October 6, 2017
Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by Australian police as he leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia, October 6, 2017 -
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Australian Cardinal George Pell lost his appeal against sexual abuse convictions on Tuesday.

The Victorian Court of Appeal decided two to one to dismiss the former Vatican treasurer's appeal.

He was sentenced in March to a six-year jail sentence after being found guilty of abusing two boys while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.

Cardinal Pell is the most senior figure in the Catholic church who has been convicted of sexual offences. He was a close adviser to Pope Francis.

The main argument for his appeal was that the charges were "unreasonable".

The 78-year-old Cardinal will be eligible for parole in about three years under the terms of his sentencing.

"I am relieved by the decision of the court of appeal. It is four years since I reported to the police. The criminal process has been stressful. The journey has taken me to places, that, in my darkest moments, I feared I would not return from," one of the two victims said in a statement read by his lawyer, Vivian Waller.

The director of the Holy See press office said in a statement that it "acknowledges" the court's decision to dismiss the appeal, but that Pell "has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court."

"I'm happy. I feel like it's a historic moment... and this is what all of us survivors have been doing, we've been waiting for this moment to come," an unnamed sexual abuse victim said outside the courthouse in Melbourne.

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