French court fines Scientologists, allows operations

Standard

French court fines Scientologists, allows operations

By Thierry Leveque

Reuters
Tuesday, October 27, 2009; 7:36 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – A Paris court on Tuesday fined the French branch of the Church of Scientology a total of 600,000 euros ($902,200) after finding it guilty of fraud but allowed the group to continue operating in France.

When the hearing opened, there were expectations that the court could order the group to be banned in France but due to a mix-up over a law that passed in parliament just before the start of the trial in May, that option was ruled out.

The legislation has since been changed back to allow the dissolution of an organization found guilty of fraud but because of the timing of the case, there was no question of forcing the Church of Scientology to be wound up.

“It is very regrettable that the law quietly changed before the trial,” Georges Fenech, head of the Inter-ministerial Unit to Monitor and Fight Cults, told television station France 24.

“The system has now been put in place by parliament and it is certain that in the future, if new offences are committed, a ban could eventually be pronounced,” he said.

The court handed down suspended prison sentences ranging from 10 months to two years and fines of 5,000 euros to 30,000 euros to four leaders of the group in France.

“This is an important and historic decision because it is the first time that Scientology has been found guilty of involvement in organized fraud,” Olivier Morice, one of the lawyers for the civil parties to the case told reporters.

CELEBRITY MEMBERS

The case was brought by two former members who said they were cajoled into spending 21,000 euros and 49,500 euros on personality tests, vitamin cures, sauna sessions and “purification packs.”

Scientology, which is officially considered a sect in France, denies fraud and is expected to appeal.

Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France, where it has faced accusations of being a money-making cult. The trial, which began on May 25, centers on complaints made in the late 1990s.

The prosecutor had recommended that the Paris court dissolve the church’s French arm.

But it emerged during the trial that the Church of Scientology could not be dissolved in France even if it had been convicted of fraud, due to an amendment to legislation which passed unnoticed just before the trial began.

Scientology has faced numerous setbacks in France, with members convicted of fraud in Lyon in 1997 and Marseille in 1999. In 2002, a court fined it for violating privacy laws and said it could be dissolved if involved in similar cases.

Scientology says it has gone to court in many countries to uphold the right to freedom of religion.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “French court fines Scientologists, allows operations

  1. Nice post. I’ve just posted on the case at http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/scientology-current-problems-illustrate-susceptabilities-of-religion/ I argue that the problems are indicative of broader susceptabilities facing religion–namely, susceptability to the profit-motive and an over-estimation of religious leaders.

    If you haven’t already read it, here is a NYT article on the case: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/europe/28france.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=scientology&st=cse

    Like

  2. The Prometheusongebonde blog was a great blog. When it was deleted/hacked and George started another blog, pertinent questions were asked to him by a regular intellectual participator. George did not bother to answer him. My opinion is that the persons, who had trust in George and backed and supported him in the fight against the fundies, just left the second blog when they saw this. So George threw in the towel again.

    Like

  3. Very interesting article, Savage ! It seems that “there is much to be learned” about “the inconceivable nature of nature”.

    Like

  4. Juliet, yes, whether we like it or not, we still carry social traits written in our genes from our ancestors. That is why I find it so repulsive that gays must fight for equal rights all over the world. The bigots who deny them these rights, are also science deniers when it suits them, but enjoy the applications of science in their daily lives.

    Like

  5. AD 2009 – It says it all … we are still living under the christian calendar era and agenda.
    Nothing new really, a few divergence from the sect and different interpretations of the story to suit the human mind and being of its time.
    Hell of a guy that jesus … people are still preaching for him and his unseen father … the best cult of personality ever !

    Like

  6. My bad … I meant, check their Nov. 3rd archives on disgusting commercial about blond boy in wife-beater, revolver in hand: apparently, the answer’s in genesis.

    Stupidity is so out there … no vaccine yet …

    Unfortunately, these people are real ! trying to spread their lies to our children, praising their rules and their “sinless/impeccable” way of life referring literally to these obsolete/lost in translation Tome 1 & Tome 2.

    Time to diversify your reading, people !!

    Here’s that bunch of sickos, so-called “non-profit” organization with a pretty nice budget, though !
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Answers_in_Genesis

    Like

  7. i just relized that if i keep calling everyone else stupid and sick that i am just as bad as they are – idon’t need to blame others anymore to feel better about myself and no longer need this blog of hate so see you suckas!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s