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Australian prosecutors seek jail for media over Pell trial coverage

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Australian prosecutors seek jail for media over Pell trial coverage

By Sonali Paul

 

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FILE PHOTO: Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne, Australia, February 27, 2019. AAP Image/David Crosling/via REUTERS

 

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian prosecutors are seeking jail and fines for dozens of journalists and media outlets for alleged contempt of court over their coverage of Cardinal George Pell's child sex abuse trial last year, a court summons showed on Tuesday.

 

The Director of Public Prosecution in Victoria has asked the state's Supreme Court to send journalists to jail or impose fines for breaching a suppression order on coverage of the trial, aiding and abetting overseas media's contempt of court, and "scandalising the court".

 

The court has set April 15 for a first hearing on the application. The summons included 23 journalists and 13 news outlets. No foreign media or journalists were named.

 

Last year, the County Court of Victoria imposed a suppression order on reporting of the trial of former Vatican treasurer Pell to prevent prejudicing the jury in that case and a second trial on older child sex offences that had been set for March.

 

A jury in the first trial found Pell guilty on Dec. 11 of abusing two choir boys. After the verdict, some Australian media ran headlines flagging that an unnamed high-profile person had been convicted of a serious crime that could not be reported.

 

In February, Judge Peter Kidd sentenced Pell to six years jail. Pell is the most senior Catholic worldwide to have been convicted for child sex abuse.

 

No Australian media named Pell or the charges in their reporting in December although some overseas media, including the Daily Beast and the Washington Post, named the cardinal and reported he had been found guilty of sexually assaulting two choir boys.

 

The gag order, which had applied across Australia "and on any website or other electronic or broadcast format accessible within Australia", was only lifted on Feb. 26 when the charges for the second trial were dropped.

 

Journalists summoned for contempt of court include reporters from Nine Entertainment Co, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, Macquarie Media, and several News Corp publications.

 

The list includes high-profile radio commentator Ray Hadley and the editor-in-chief of the Australian Financial Review, Michael Stutchbury.

 

Hadley's employer, Macquarie Media, declined to comment on the allegations as they are now subject to legal proceedings.

 

"Nine and the named employees deny the allegations but as the matter is now before the courts, Nine will not comment further at this time," a Nine spokeswoman said.

 

Nine is owner of a television network as well as Fairfax Media and the newspapers The Age and the Australian Financial Review named in the summons. News Corp. could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

Under the state of Victoria's open courts law, breaches of suppression orders can result in jail time of up to five years and fines of nearly A$100,000 ($71,000) for individuals and nearly A$500,000 for companies.

 

(Additional reporting by Byron Kaye in Sydney; Editing by Sam Holmes)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-03-26

 

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Well done. No sympathy for those who think that they are above the law.

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Don't underestimate the Right and extreme Right in OZ. It is alive and well. Despite the image and rhetoric OZ has a huge body of Right leaning and a strong core of Fascist thinkers. 

Take a look at the ABC's latest expose on One Nation and the USA's NRA.

I have personally seen and heard on my travels in the last few years (with my own ears) folks (often country folks seem to be more open about such beliefs) regularly speaking in terms I would call is a short stroll to internment and deportation camps.
Perhaps because the country is more traditionally white dominant, and still thinks of itself as the sons and daughters of the great British Empire.

If you look at the history of Fascism, Right wing, Arian, White Supremacist history the distance from dialogue to death camps is short. The Islamaphobia in OZ is alive and huge.  

The thin transparent covering over the inherent, racist, attitudes in OZ culture, political life, and many of our politicians is there to see. Unless of course you are culturally entranced, and if not blind, then actively believed and supported, or passively collude with.    

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10 minutes ago, Tropposurfer said:

I have personally seen and heard on my travels in the last few years (with my own ears) folks (often country folks seem to be more open about such beliefs) regularly speaking in terms I would call is a short stroll to internment and deportation camps. Perhaps because the country is more traditionally white dominant, and still thinks of itself as the sons and daughters of the great British Empire.

Interestingly a number of country towns are reinvigorating themselves by focusing on providing opportunities for refugees - https://www.ruralaustraliansforrefugees.org.au/whoweare/

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