A new courtroom drama from public service broadcaster Avro called the "Advocaat van de Duivel" (the Devil's Advocate) provokes discussion in the Netherlands. Top defence lawyer, Spong plays the “devil’s advocate."
A jury decides on the guilt or innocence of contemporary personalities, Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera has reported.
The first "hearing" was of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden, acquitted of the charge of being behind the attacks of 11 September 2001. In the following "legal case" Pope Benedict XVI was received a verdict of guilty.
Reason: With his recent remarks about the use of condoms, the church leader was responsible for the spread of the HIV virus and the death of millions of people.
The courtroom drama started last week. The suspect sits in a virtual dock. Film footage, photographs and media reports are shown as "evidence".
AIDS, anti-semitism and discrimination.
In the second hearing, the top Dutch lawyer Gerard Spong was less fortunate. Three indictments were levied against his "client" Benedict XVI. In addition to his responsibility for the spread of AIDS, the Pope also "legitimises anti-Semitism" - because he did not immediately distance himself from the Holocaust-denier and Lefebvrist Bishop Richard Williamson distances - and finally was also charged with discrimination against women and homosexuals. The indictment was supported with pictures of the Pope in front of a swastika, as well as pictures of concentration camp prisoners and dying Africans.
Spong in his plea of defence stated that the church takes care of AIDS patients and fights against discrimination against them. Also it cannot be agreed that women and gays were discriminated against by the Church, especially as women could be canonised. Furthermore, the most popular hymn was "Ave Maria". The jurors could only be persuaded by the lawyer on one point: the fact was that the Pope was not aware of the views on the Holocaust of Williamson. On the two other points, the verdict of guilty was returned.
Hopes for buyers.
The courtroom drama will be on air until 13 May. In addition to top lawyer Spong, the journalist Aad van den Heuvel and the Belgian theology professor Jean-Pierre Wils participated, the latter having left the Church due to the Williamson affair. The makers of the broadcast from the production company Palm Plus believe in the success of their format and hope to sell the rights to Scandinavia and Britain.
Cathcon: but a small step from TV show trials to real show trials. Some would not even notice the difference.