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British campaigners threaten pope with arrest

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British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins will try to have Pope Benedict arrested to face questions over the Catholic church's child abuse scandal when he visits Britain later this year, one of his lawyers said Sunday.

Dawkins, a scientist and outspoken critic of religion, has asked human rights lawyers to examine whether charges could be brought against the pope.

The four-day trip, from September 16 to 19, will be the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II's pastoral visit in 1982 and is the first official papal visit to Britain.

The Catholic church has rejected claims the pope helped to cover up abuse by priests and the Vatican has accused the media of waging a "despicable campaign of defamation" against him.

Dawkins and the English journalist Christopher Hitchens have commissioned lawyers Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to explore ways of taking legal action against the pope.

In an email to Reuters, Stephens said there are three possible approaches: a complaint to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, a private or public prosecution "for crimes against humanity" or a civil case.
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TAGGED: ATHEISM, CAMPAIGNS, RELIGION


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