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Prosecutors want media blackout for Cardinal Pell trial

Cardinal George Pell leaves the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on March 5, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia (Getty Images)

Prosecutors have sought a blanket ban on media coverage of the trial of Cardinal George Pell for alleged historic sexual offences.

The cardinal’s case returns to Victoria County Court in Melbourne on Wednesday, when the judge is likely to rule on a media ban. Prosecutors have applied for an injunction to suppress “any report of the whole or any part of these proceedings and any information derived from this proceeding and any court documents associated with this proceeding”.

They made the application to “prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice” due to concerns that the intense publicity surrounding the case will mean the cardinal may not get a fair trial.

The order would also prevent the media from reporting the number of claimants, the nature of the charges and the number of charges.

The application comes two weeks after magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed around half the charges against Cardinal Pell, but ruled that the prosecution had a strong enough case for the remainder to go to full trial.

The cardinal denies all the charges.

Cardinal Pell has been on leave of absence as Vatican finance chief since he was charged last June. He is the most senior Vatican official ever to face trial by jury.