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LONDON – Protests are growing against Pope Benedict XVI's planned trip to Britain, where some lawyers question whether the Vatican's implicit statehood status should shield the pope from prosecution over sex crimes by pedophile priests.
Although Benedict has not been accused of any crime, senior British lawyers are now examining whether the pope should have immunity as a head of state and whether he could be prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction ....
Universal jurisdiction or universality principle is a principle in international law whereby states claim criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting country. The state backs its claim on the grounds that the crime committed is considered a crime against all, which any state is authorized to punish, as it is too serious to tolerate jurisdictional arbitrage.