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« on: December 29, 2012, 06:57:52 AM »

       Could Belgium Bring Down Scientology?

 Scientologists may be facing their most daunting court case yet, and all it took was for someone to stop calling them a cult. After a years long legal battle, federal prosecutors in Belgium now believe their investigation is complete enough to charge the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization on charges of extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal practice of medicine. "The decision follows years of investigation that was triggered by a complaint by the Labour Mediation Service in the Brussels Region. Labour mediators were unhappy with a number of labour contracts," reads the report from Flanders News. "The matter ended up on the desk of examining magistrate Michel Claise, who ordered raids on Church of Scientology premises in 2008. During the raids police managed to seize a wealth of evidence," they add. And (with the help of Google translate) Belgian newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo are both reporting that the Belgian federal attorney is now seeking prosecution. 

Multiple reports and the group's legal history point to one key factor here: The Belgian government won't charge Scientology for being a cult — authorities are focusing on prosecuting it as a criminal organization. Which is a new twist, as most of the group's many court battles over the years have focused on establishing its legitimacy as a religion. Scientology's well-funded legal team won very expensive cases against Time in 1991 and the Cult Awareness Network in 1996, but the Belgian authorities have been battling Scientologists since 2007, when the country tried to label the group with cult status in a move that even received blowback from the U.S. State Department.

The Church of Scientology houses its European headquarters in Brussels, so a ban in Belgian could be crippling to the group — and authorities there seem to know it. One of the more similar recent cases against came in 2009, when the French chapter of Scientology was convicted of fraud by a Paris court and fined nearly $900,000. "But the judges did not ban the church entirely, as the prosecution had demanded, saying that a change in the law prevented such an action for fraud," reported The New York Times's Steven Erlanger. So the French chapter got saved by a legal wrinkle, but the Belgian prosecutors don't appear to be backing down.

Neither the federal prosecution nor the Church of Scientology have not made public comments since word of the impending charges surfaced early Friday.           


 http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2012/12/belgium-scientology-charges/60398/

http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id%3D2284115%26language%3Den
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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012, 05:42:53 PM »

    Belgium: Church of Scientology charged as 'criminal organization'

By Yukio Strachan   
Dec 28, 2012

 +
Brussels - After an investigation spanning fifteen years, Belgian federal prosecutors have decided to prosecute the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization, according to Belgian media reports.
According to RT News, charges of fraud, illegal medicine, breaches of privacy and extortion have been drawn up against the Church and two senior executives, De Tijd, Belgium’s financial newspaper, reported.
“The subpoenas have only just been sent to the scientologists,” the newspaper reported yesterday, The Province writes.
Belgium's Flanders News reports the charges against the Church of Scientology are said to stem from an investigation triggered by the Belgium Labor Mediation Service.
In 2008, labor mediators complained employment contracts issued by the church of Scientology in an effort to recruit new members which allegedly breached the country's strict employment laws.
The matter ended up on the desk of examining magistrate Michel Claise, who then ordered raids on Scientology premises where police allegedly “managed to seize a wealth of evidence,” that the organization had spied on and extorted money from its members, the Flanders News reported.
As a result of the investigation, Belgian prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen said that the Belgian Church of Scientology, plus Scientology's Office of Human Rights and their 12 members should be charged with extortion fraud, organized crime, unlawful practices in medicine.
At the time, the Church of Scientology, which has the actor Tom Cruise as its figurehead, said it would fight the charges and described the case as a "witch hunt."
Fastest-growing religion in the world
Scientology — which means "the study of truth" — calls itself the "fastest-growing religion in the world." Born in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who famously said "If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion,” the group now claims millions of members in 165 different countries and eighty-five hundred Scientology churches, missions, and outreach groups across the globe, according to the New York Times.
Although an estimated 500 people belong to the church of Scientology in Belgium, Scientology is not recognized as a faith as it is in the U.S., Sweden and Spain. Belgium's government denied Scientology the status of religion in 1997.
Neither is it recognized as a faith in Germany. A 1997 state-level interior ministry report described the organization's agenda and activities as "marked by objectives that are fundamentally and permanently directed at abolishing the free democratic basic order," Time reported in 2007.
Scientology is not considered a religion under French law. In 2009, the organization was convicted of fraud for "[pressuring] members into paying large sums for questionable remedies," according to the Associated Press.
The case began with a legal complaint by a young woman who said she took out loans and spent the equivalent of $28,000 on books, courses and "purification packages" after being recruited in 1998, the AP reported at the time. When she sought reimbursement and to leave the group, its leadership refused to allow either.
The conviction for the case was upheld in a French appeals court in February 2012.
Belgium case may set international precedent
Belgian authorities began legally battling Scientologists in 2007, when the country tried to label the movement as a cult; a move that even received blowback from the U.S. State Department.
But as The Atlantic noted, since the Belgian government won't charge Scientology for being a cult — authorities are focusing on prosecuting it as a criminal organization.
The daily De Tijd says that the decision to fight the case may serve as an international precedent on which to base other cases, making them much easier to prosecute worldwide.
Since word of the impending charges surfaced early Friday, a spokesman for the Church’s Brussels headquarters told the Daily Telegraph, “Unfortunately we have not received anything from the prosecutor’s office yet. The media have been informed, we have not.”
But Agnes Bron, a spokesperson for the Church’s Public Relations department in Brussels, said members shouldn't be surprised.
"Attacks against religion have existed for a very, very long time, except that they used to cast us into a lions' den," said Bron, according to local media interview translated on YouTube. "Today they haul us into courts of law. That's the only difference."

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/340028#ixzz2GPuCEeuF


http://www.inquisitr.com/458442/belgium-may-spell-the-end-of-scientology/
« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 05:46:43 PM by Ididntcomeback » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 06:59:05 AM »


                           Scientology recognized as a criminal organization in Europe

    Scientology criminal organization
    December 29, 2012

According to Flanders News Agency on December 28, 2012, federal prosecutors in Belgium have decided to press charges against the Church of Scientology as well as many of its high-ranking members. Among the charges against the controversial global organization include extortion, fraud, illegal practice of medicine and privacy violations. Once prosecuted, the church will officially be labeled a criminal organization in the country of Belgium.

Following years of investigation triggered by complaints by labor mediators regarding labor contracts in Brussels, it was discovered that many of the contracts were fraudulent. This prompted a judge to raid the Scientology offices in 2008, revealing “a wealth of evidence” that the organization had spied on and extorted money from many of its members, according to Huffington Post.

This is not the first time Scientology has faced prosecution in Europe. In February 2012, a French appeals court held up fraud convictions against the church for pressuring members to pay large sums of money for “questionable [medicinal] remedies” according the AP.

Many other countries throughout Europe do not officially recognize Scientology as a faith and have had several court battles over the years concerning this matter. Most notably in Germany. In 1996, while Germany was in talks to discredit Scientology as an official faith, members of the church itself struck back with an ultra-controversial PR move. In an open letter to the German Chancellor, they stated: "In the 1930s, it was the Jews. Today it is the Scientologists," quite understandable drawing the ire of many prominent heads of state against the church even further.

Notable members of Scientology include Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

http://www.examiner.com/article/scientology-recognized-as-a-criminal-organization-europe
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 09:09:51 PM »

                                  Radar online

Belgium Says 'No' To Scientology, Country To Prosecute Church As 'Criminal Organization'
Posted on Dec 29, 2012

2012 has been a very bad year for Scientology with the latest blow being a decision by officials in Belgium to prosecute it as a "criminal organization."

After years of investigation by authorities, federal prosecutors will start legal proceedings against Scientology, which isn't recognized as a religion in Belgium.

Scientology and several of its members face charges of extortion, fraud, illegal practice of medicine, and violations of privacy legislation in the European country.

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Tom Cruise's Tricked Out SUV Made By Scientology Church Members

According to De Standaard, raids on Scientology offices in Belgium allegedly revealed evidence that the group had spied on and extorted money from converts. And an Associated Press report said that investigators have spent more than a decade trying to determine how far Scientology went in recruiting members after many complaints were filed with police by former Scientologists claiming they'd been the victims of intimidation and extortion.

Only about 500 people belong to Scientology in Belgium.

http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2012/12/scientology-criminal-prosecution-belgium
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2012, 06:07:15 AM »

                                         The Daily Mail

Scientologists 'facing fraud and extortion charges in Belgium after police probe into criminal organisation'

    'Illegal medicine, breaches of privacy and extortion charges' have been drawn up against the Church and two senior executives
    Offices in Belgium, where it is considered a 'cult' have been raided
    It comes after 15 year investigation into Scientology by authorities....

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2254846/Scientologists-facing-fraud-extortion-charges-Belgium-police-probe-criminal-organisation.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2013, 07:43:36 AM »

                               Anger in Belgium over leaked spy report on politicians


Brussels (dpa) - A Belgian intelligence agency on Saturday filed a complaint over the leak of a confidential report showing that it tracked meetings between local politicians and organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Scientology, local media reported.

The director of the Belgian State Security Service, Alain Winants, sent the report to the country‘s highest authorities in October, with instructions to keep the secret document locked away. Yet, the daily De Morgen managed to obtain information about it.

The intelligence agency has reportedly compiled some 200 files on Belgian politicians over the years, including around 50 ministers or parliamentarians currently in office.

The report states that organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Sahaja Yoga and Scientology "try to influence politicians in their decisions," arguing that it goes beyond the "grey zone of lobbying" and amounts to "intrusion," De Morgen said.

Winants told the newspaper that his agency was not spying on politicians, but rather monitoring "harmful sects." He later added that if politicians were mentioned in the report, it would only be because they were approached by a group, the Belga news agency said.

The news of the report nevertheless angered at least one of the politicians named in the document, Rik Torfs of the Flemish conservative CD&V party.

"This leaves me with a feeling of anxiety," he was quoted as saying by the broadcaster RTBF. "You shouldn‘t focus on certain religious groups, but on possible offences committed by some people or some groups."

The politicians named in the report were all part at some point of a commission on sects, which could explain their contacts with the organizations, RTBF said. dpa amh jln Author: Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl

http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/anger-in-belgium-over-leaked-spy-report-on-politicians_262172.html
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