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Tuesday
Nov292011

Pope Benedict Charged with Traffic Violation 

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- The pope’s trip back to his German homeland earlier this year was greeted with cheers and some jeers, but now at least one citizen wants the pontiff to be fined for breaking the law.

A fellow German has decided to file charges against Pope Benedict for allegedly travelling around in his popemobile on the last two days of his official visit to Germany in September without wearing a seat belt.

Christian Sunderman, the lawyer representing the unnamed German complainant from Dortmund, told the German daily Berliner Zeitung that his client is no anticlerical fanatic but a man on a personal road safety crusade -- and concerned about the pope’s safety. Sunderman explained that since being in a fatal road accident many years ago, his client is insistent that authorities and celebrities give good example to others while on visits to Germany.

Two high dignitaries have been cited as eyewitnesses in this road safety violation: the Archbishop of Freiburg, president of the German Bishops Conference, the highest Catholic authority in Germany, and the minister-president of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, which includes the city of Freiburg.

The lawyer, however, admitted he hasn’t worked out how to proceed with the case yet. As Pope Benedict enjoys diplomatic immunity while on foreign visits it is unclear if he can in fact be charged with breaking the laws of the road in his native country like any German citizen.

If the case goes forward the Pope could face a euro fine of the equivalent of between $40 and $3,000.

Pope Benedict usually travels in his specially designed popemobile on his foreign trips at a walking pace to allow visibility by the crowds who show up to greet him along his route or at public ceremonies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio