Four priests accused of sexually abusing youths in Malta filed a constitutional case in court on Thursday claiming they were being unfairly tried by the media , dpa reported
Fr Joseph Bonett, Fr Godwin Scerri, Fr Charles Pulis and Fr Conrad Sciberras - have been charged in a criminal court with sexually abusing boys, aged 13 to 16, at an orphanage in the 1980s.
In a surprise move on Thursday, their lawyer claimed a breach of their right to a fair hearing due to the massive media spotlight on their case.
Though the four priests were arraigned in 2003, the case is still pending before the courts and the constitutional case is expected to delay the case further.
The Catholic Church in Malta said last October there was enough evidence to back allegations by eight men that they were sexually abused as minors to have the case sent to the Vatican.
Last April, Pope Benedict XVI agreed to meet the alleged victims during a visit to Malta in an event which received worldwide media coverage.
The spokesman for the alleged victims, Lawrence Grech, said the priests' decision to open a constitutional case was a delaying tactic to further postpone justice.
"We are going to persist with this case, come what may. We had no choice but to resort to the media and tell the story of our suffering because we were ignored for far too long," Grech, 39, told the German Press Agency dpa.