Medb Ruane: Will Dawkins finally put an end to the Vatican's contract with Mussolini?
Published 17/04/2010 | 05:00
A Popemobile stained with rotting aubergines. A papal convoy protected by low-flying military helicopters and battalions of gun-toting special agents. Call them reasonable predictions for Pope Benedict's visit to the UK in September, but could he really be detained by British police?
Arresting the Pope for crimes against humanity may seem a pipe dream, yet it's possible, if scientist Richard Dawkins and writer Christopher Hitchens prove the case. They believe they will. The alleged criminal complicity in covering up systematic child sex abuse is being investigated by various networks worldwide. The grounds for immunity against being prosecuted for them are being queried by senior British legal experts, Geoffrey Robertson QC and Mark Stephens.
Dawkins and Hitchens want the immunity grounds removed so that Benedict can be arrested and charged once he sets foot in Britain. Some say the demand is a headline-grabbing stunt, yet its intricacies question the Vatican's claim for diplomatic immunity against child abuse and other prosecutions worldwide.