Australian media face trial over Pell sex abuse case reporting

Nineteen journalists and 21 news organizations are being prosecuted by an Australian state over their coverage of former Vatican treasurer George Pell's child sex abuse scandal.

They are accused of breaching a nationwide gag order in the case.

Prosecutors in Victoria say the media aided - and abetted - contempt of court by overseas media - and breached suppression orders imposed by the trial judge.

Back in December 2018, Pell was found guilty of sexually assaulting two choirboys.

But reporting on the case was gagged so as not to prejudice another trial on separate charges.

Following the verdict, some Australian media said an unnamed, high-profile person had been convicted of a serious crime that also couldn't be named - while some overseas media named Pell - and the charges he faced.

The second case was later dropped - and the suppression order lifted in February last year.

Pell's conviction was overturned in April.

It's not yet clear if the journalists and publishers will go through a single trial - or several.

Those facing the contempt charges include journalists from Nine Entertainment Co's newspapers, and several News Corp publications.

Breaches of suppression orders are punishable by up to five years in jail - and fines of nearly 66,000 U.S. dollars for individuals and around $330,000 for companies.

The case's next hearing is set for July.