Bookmakers tip Nigerian or Canadian as next pope

Updated 11 February 2013
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Bookmakers tip Nigerian or Canadian as next pope

LONDON: Francis Arinze of Nigeria, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Marc Ouellet of Canada were among the cardinals hotly tipped by bookmakers on Monday to take over from Pope Benedict XVI.
William Hill bookmakers named 80-year-old Arinze as their favorite to replace the pontiff following Monday’s shock announcement of the pontiff’s resignation with odds of 2-1, followed by Turkson at 5-2.
Coral also tipped Arinze as the likeliest successor with odds of 7-4, followed by Turkson at 2-1 and Ouellet in third place at 5-1.
The bookmaker also offered odds of 8-1 on Archbishop Angelo Scola of Italy and 10-1 on Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power named Ouellet as the favorite with odds of 5-2, followed by Arinze at 3-1 and Turkson at 4-1.
During the 2005 conclave of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals that elected Benedict, Arinze was considered “papabile,” or a potential successor to the late John Paul II.
“When we opened betting last time around, in 2005, Francis Arinze was our favorite,” a William Hill spokesman told AFP.
“His odds did drift toward the date of the announcement when Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) became the favorite, but he remained in the top three.
“Also, when Ratzinger became pope, Arinze took over from him as cardinal bishop of Velletri-Segni (a Catholic diocese close to Rome) — it could be that he’ll follow in his footsteps again.”
A quarter of the cardinals that can elect a new pope are Italian. The last non-Italian pope before Benedict, who is German, and his Polish predecessor John Paul II was Adrian VI, who died in 1523.
Arinze and Turkson, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace who is considered a progressive candidate, are among 18 Africans in the Vatican’s College of Cardinals.
Ouellet, a respected theologian who heads up the world’s bishops and is seen as a “modern conservative,” has also been frequently named in Vatican circles as a possible successor to Benedict.
At the humorous end of the scale, Coral was offering 2000-1 on disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong becoming pope.


UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd’s death sentence

Updated 42 min 24 sec ago
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UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd’s death sentence

  • Ramin Hossein Panahi was arrested last June for alleged membership in the Kurdish nationalist group Komala.
  • Three United Nations human rights experts warned that executing Panahi “would be unconscionable.”

Geneva: Three United Nations human rights experts called on Iran Thursday to annul a death sentence handed to an Iranian Kurdish prisoner, citing concerns he had been tortured in detention.
The experts warned that executing Ramin Hossein Panahi, who they said was arrested last June for alleged membership in the Kurdish nationalist group Komala, “would be unconscionable.”
In a joint statement, they said he had been “sentenced to death for taking up arms against the state” due to his alleged membership of the group.
Iran’s Supreme Court apparently reaffirmed the death sentence earlier this month, they said, adding that his case was due to be passed to the country’s Office of Implementation.
“We are deeply disturbed by reports that Mr. Panahi has suffered human rights violations before and during his trial, including incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment, and denial of access to a lawyer and adequate medical care,” they said.
They pointed to reports that he had been denied medical care for injuries suffered during his imprisonment, including from reported beating with cables.
He also reportedly started a hunger strike at the beginning of this year.
“The death sentence was imposed on Mr. Panahi after judicial proceedings which do not appear to have fulfilled the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process,” they said.
The experts, including the UN special rapporteur on torture and the expert on summary executions, stressed that “the only thing that distinguishes capital punishment from arbitrary execution is full respect for stringent due process guarantees.”
“We urge the government of Iran to annul the death sentence.”
The experts also raised concern that members of Panahi’s family appeared to have been convicted in “summary trials, and sentenced to long prison terms, in apparent reprisals for their efforts to obtain further information on his situation.”