RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to
the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain ���for crimes against
Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human
lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his
cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to
Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in
The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he
arguing that the ���good of the universal church��� should be considered
the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against
boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for
Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.
Benedict will be in Britain between September 16 and 19, visiting
Glasgow and Coventry, where he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman,
Dawkins and Hitchens believe the Pope would be unable to claim
immunity from arrest because, although his tour is categorised as a
visit, he is not the head of a state recognised by the United Nations.
They have commissioned the barrister Geoffrey Robertson and Mark
solicitor, to present a justification for legal action.
The lawyers believe they can ask the Crown Prosecution Service to
criminal proceedings against the Pope, launch their own civil action
him or refer his case to the International Criminal Court.
Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: ���This is a man whose first
when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the
and damn the young victims to silence.���
Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great, said: ���This man is not above or
the law. The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime
any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or
payoffs, but justice and punishment.
Last year pro-Palestinian activists persuaded a British judge to issue
arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the Israeli politician, for offences
allegedly committed during the[masked] conflict in Gaza. The warrant was
withdrawn after Livni cancelled her planned trip to the UK.
���There is every possibility of legal action against the Pope occurring,���
Stephens. ���Geoffrey and I have both come to the view that the Vatican is
actually a state in international law. It is not recognised by the UN,
does not have borders that are policed and its relations are not of a
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