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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2009, 08:05:44 AM »

 59 %   * Oui

40 % * Non

1% * Sans opinion

Nombre de réponses : 193906 votes

As of 8:05 am 23 June 09 NZ time.
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« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2009, 02:45:54 AM »

                         Translation of French article
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iGX2mRSf78IYUWvBF9WfrLuiNJCQ

NANTERRE (AFP) - The raids were conducted last Thursday at two sites of Scientology in Paris in the investigation into the suicide of a follower in December 2006, it was learned Tuesday near the source file, confirming information Parisien.

According to this source, investigators from the Central Office for the Suppression of violence to persons (OCRVP), before a preliminary inquiry from the floor of Nanterre, wanted to get their hands on the facts of the case of Gloria Lopez, who had terminated his life to 47 years by being caught by a train at the station in Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine).

The research took place after the end of the trial for fraud in an organized gang that ran the Paris court where the prosecutor has requested the dissolution of the two main structures of French Scientology.

The first raid took place at the headquarters of Scientology, in the twelfth arrondissement of Paris. The second, which was the Celebrity Center (XVIIe arrondissement), a short shot, center officials have refused access to investigators, as allowed by the procedure in some cases preliminary investigations, said the source close to the case.

Gloria Lopez was a member of Scientology for about ten years when it was given the death. Suspicions of his family, who complained were born after the discovery at his home in letters and documents referring to all kinds of expenses and debts for the benefit of the movement.

"In view of these documents, it is obvious that Scientology took advantage of it and had defrauded. She was in debt from banks and had squandered an inheritance to buy the course in advance and climb in the hierarchy" , had told AFP in October 2008 her ex-husband, Pascal Le Berre.

Several relatives of Gloria Lopez were heard in this matter, including his two children.
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« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2009, 12:51:57 AM »

                   Scientology on trial in France...


 the trial is over and the judgment will be delivered on October 27, 10.00 am Paris time.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Just a brief update on the trial because I won't get to it in my coverage for a good while yet...Coverage will resume shortly.

The prosecution is asking for the "dissolution des personnes morales" -- which is to say they want the two Scientology organisations in the dock -- the Celebrity Centre of the L'Association spirituelle de l'Eglise de Scientologie (ASES) and the bookshop Scientologie espace liberté (SEL) -- to be shut down.

They also want the two organisations to be fined two million euros each.

For the six individual defendants, they asked for fines and in four cases suspended sentences:

- for Alain Rosenberg, the managing director of the Celebrity Centre, 150,000 euros and a four-year suspended sentence;
- for Didier Michaux, their star salesman, 50,000 euros and a three-year suspended sentence;
- for Jean-François Valli, the other salesman, 25,000 euros and a three-year suspended sentence;
- for Sabine Jacquart, who was president of the Celebrity Centre, 10,000 euros and a two-year suspended sentence;
- for Aline Fabre, who managed the Purification Rundown, and for Marie-Anne Pasturel, who as agent for G&G in France took orders for the vitamins, 2,000-euro fines.

The lawyers for the plaintiffs did their summing up today too and the hearing took place in a packed courtroom.

The defence will plead tomorrow and Wednesday and then the panel of judges will consider their verdict and any sentences. The judgement will be delivered on October 27, 10.00 am Paris time.

It is worth noting that when the investigating magistrate was putting this case together, the prosecutor at the time had said there was no case to answer.

http://infinitecomplacency.blogspot.com/2009/06/paris-trial-what-prosecution-wants.html
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 12:54:36 AM by Ididntcomeback » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2009, 08:37:42 AM »

                   Quote of the day.


Alain Rosenberg: These were not treatments, but "religious services". They cannot have a price because there is no price for spiritual elevation.
Judge: Why then do there exist very detailed fee schedules for all these services?
Alain Rosenberg: The fact that they have a fee does not contradict the fact that they have no price.


I have a question...

Oh what`s the use ?
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2009, 03:41:05 PM »

                         
                               Scientology: crisis in France

guardian.co.uk

It claims to be one of the world's fastest-growing new religions but a battery of legal cases threaten its very existence in this secular country



In a small Normandy village, surrounded by wheat fields, Gwen Le Berre keeps a Scientology "electrometer" machine in his bedroom. He opens the large green briefcase and peers at the machine inside. It looks like a lie-detector from an old TV cop show and Le Berre doesn't really understand how it works – he just knows it's a key piece of kit for the Church of Scientology.

Le Berre, 21, keeps the machine as a memento of his mother's life. Four days before Christmas 2006, Gloria Lopez, a 47-year-old secretary, tidied her kitchen, hung out her washing, left her dull, suburban apartment overlooking the railway in Colombes, west of Paris, and walked the 30 metres out on to the tracks. She stood with her arms outstretched, smiling at the driver of the oncoming commuter train. He couldn't stop in time.

Lopez had left Spain in the 80s to marry Pascal Le Berre, a French secondary school teacher. The couple had two children together in Normandy, but divorced soon afterwards. It was just after the split that Lopez – who had always been interested in alternative medicine and esoteric ideas – met some Scientologists and signed up. The church was to become her life. Eventually, she moved to Paris, leaving her two children behind, to be nearer the Scientology Centre.

"When she found herself alone after the divorce, her need for a spiritual search was reawakened," Pascal Le Berre says. "At the start, Scientology gave her confidence, it gave her the illusion she could be stronger than she thought. She saw it as helping the world work better – even a way of saving the world."

Gwen Le Berre had been due to visit his mother to give her her Christmas present two days after she killed herself. His elder sister, Mathilde, had seen her a few weeks before and, although Lopez had lost weight in recent months, she had seemed in good form. They were convinced she would have left a suicide note, and went to her apartment, where the shelves were stacked with Scientology books and DVDs, to search for one. Instead, they found a box of documents in which she had handwritten a series of punishing self-appraisals as part of her membership of the Church of Scientology. She wrote of how she owed money to the organisation for courses, was struggling to advance up the path to spiritual enlightenment, really wanted to succeed as a Scientologist, and regretted every mistake in her life. "She even wrote that she had surfed the internet for two minutes beyond her allocated lunch break at work," Gwen says.

continued....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/29/scientology-france-legal
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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2009, 03:43:21 PM »

For blow by blow accounts of the French trial go here.

http://infinitecomplacency.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2011, 12:47:59 PM »

                       Thursday March 17 2011

              Paris Flash Raid Scientologist attacked us.

Okay...this is rough from a google translation:
A flashraid this afternoon with aggression ! 4 Scientologists, which went beyond scientologist located in building 7 rue Jules César to Paris, are taken to us with a violence incredible. Nono la Patate was nasty attacked him: it to the broken nose and multiple lesions. I have also been attacked by several individuals but my state is less serious. We found to the Hospital. The equipment to been damaged.

These are wild scientologists without a name, they deserve to beings prosecuted and sent to prison as criminals of their species. We call on each of us join the Saturday 26 March to 14H00 opposite the 69 rue Legendre, Paris 17ÈME, metro Brochant or the Fork, to denounce these crimes and ask the dissolution of this sect which, i notes again today, is more and more dangerous. ANONYMOUS CIRCLE.

Report and photo

http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threads/paris-flash-raid-scientologist-attacked-us.78017/



                   
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« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2011, 07:40:42 PM »

Quote:
Originally Posted by mnql1 View Post
http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?t=23147

"Here is a link to a French documentary that first aired on Thurs. April 28, 2011. It describes how John Travolta and Tom Cruise help Scientology's image and it includes comments by Mark Bunker, Amy Scobee, Nancy Many, and Jay Fernandez of the Hollywood Reporter.

Perhaps the most suprising revelation comes from Nancy Many, Director of the Celebrity Centre, 1978-1991, who explains that the key benefit John Travolta received from Scientology is that it got him out of legal trouble. At 6:19 in the video, she says, "He was in trouble with the law. He was about to be [inaudible] in a legal morass, and they used their lawyers and their private investigators to get him out of it. And then -- I don't want this public. Could you shut the camera for a second?" This segment was obviously not removed."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hollywood et la Scientologie
Duration: 28 min. 15 sec.
Nice mnql1!

Funny, I just came across this tonight; I was reading Gary Weber's apology to planet earth for his shenanigans while a now defunct 'Guardian's Office' operative. Gary Weber was apparently the Nazi scientologist whose picture was front page news in the Clearwater Sun some years ago.

In his apology, he mentioned this about John Travolta:

<snip>"Another lady by the name of Nancy or Diane Bush also worked "Internal Intelligence." Internal Intelligence was really an underhanded way of collecting personal "auditing files" and ethics files of Scientology parishioners. GO Intelligence staff would go through these folders and look for anyone disaffected or a "possible trouble source" within the church. In the expediter unit I was always getting parishioner's "Confidential PC Files" for the Internal Info Bureau folks. Info Bureau had tons of files on people inside the Church as well as outside the Church. Whenever a "Dead Agent Package" was needed to discredit any foe of the Church it could easily be prepared with all these confidential files. At first I was shocked that the GO would use trusted or "sacred" personal files against our own people, but in the name of saving the planet it was justified.

I remember John Travoltaused to speak publicly how he loved Scientology but didn't like the management. I wasn't in charge of collecting his folders, but I recall being told that he was being "handled" by upper management. It wasn't long before he changed his attitude."

DOX: http://www.lermanet2.com/garyweber/
(Thanks to Arnie at OCMB)
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« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2011, 09:09:32 AM »

Scientology: Trial in November
AP
May 9, 2011

The French branch of the Church of Scientology, which was convicted and fined 400,000 euros for "organized fraud", will be retried in November by the Paris court of appeal, according to a judicial source, and the new trial will take place from November 3 to December 1, 2011.

On October 27, 2009, the Paris correctional court convicted Scientology's two principal organizations in France, the "Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology - Celebrity Centre" and the Scientology bookstore, and fined them, respectively, 400,000 euros and 200,000 euros.

Six members of the Church of Scientology were convicted, four of whom received suspended prison sentences ranging from 10 to 24 months for "organized fraud". Two others were fined for "complicity in the illegal practice of pharmacy".

The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by American science fiction writer Ron Hubbard.
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« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2011, 11:38:34 PM »


     France: COS says Justice Ministry infringing on appeal trial (Nov. 3, 2011)

Scientology attacks a French Justice Ministry circular on "sectarian abuses"

October 24, 2011

The Church of Scientology announced on Monday that it has filed a complaint with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges following the publication by the French Ministry of Justice of a circular which, according to the Church of Scientology, infringes on the right of "religious minorities" to a fair trial.

The circular on "vigilance and the fight against sectarian abuses", dated September 19, was addressed by the Justice Ministry to prosecutors and presidents of courts of first instance and courts of appeal.

Its distribution comes as the appeal trial of the Paris branch of the Church of Scientology is set to start on November 3 in Paris. After a first trial, the Celebrity Centre and its bookstore, the movement's two principal entities in France, were fined, respectively, 400,000 euros and 200,000 euros for organized fraud.

In the circular, which is available online, the Justice Ministry reminds judges of the legislative texts that are applicable to sectarian abuses and makes recommendations about "verifying whether victims are in a state of psychological subjection."

The document cites "tests, purification treatments, vitamin cures" as examples of techniques that can lead to alteration of a person's judgment.

These examples are "religious practices of Scientology", protested one of Celebrity Centre's lawyers, Michel de Guillenschmidt, during a press conference. His colleague Jean-Marc Florand said that this document "clearly has no other purpose than to put pressure on judges" as the trial approaches.

"We also plan to notify the Justice Ministry of a claim for damages as a result of a wrongful act," added François Jacquot, attorney for the "de facto leader" of Scientology in Paris, Alain Rosenberg.

For the Church of Scientology, the circular "is just the latest in a series of measures implemented by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with Miviludes [Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Sectarian Abuses] to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the right to a fair trial for religious minorities in France."

Considered a religion in the United States, the movement founded in 1954 by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard was classified as a cult in France by a 1995 parliamentary report. It claims 12 million followers worldwide and 45,000 in France.

http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/societe/20111024.AFP6708/la-scientologie-attaque-une-circulaire-sur-les-derives-sectaires.html
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« Reply #25 on: November 03, 2011, 04:27:05 PM »

                   France: Initial plaintiff withdrew from Nov. 3 appeal trial

    In news published on Nov. 2, 2011, it was revealed that the woman whose 1998 complaint led to Scientology's 2009 conviction for organized fraud has withdrawn from the proceedings and that, as a result, no individual plaintiffs will be involved in the Nov. 3, 2011 appeal trail. This would leave as the only plaintiffs the Order of Pharmacists and the UNADFI, an association that defends victims of cults, if the latter's request to join as a plaintiff is accepted.

    Translation of a French Associated Press report posted on Nov. 2, 2011 on the website of weekly news magazine Le nouvel Observateur:

    Retour à la case tribunal pour la Scientologie

    Scientology returning to court

    November 2, 2011

    PARIS (AP) - The Church of Scientology will again be facing justice on Thursday. New hearings will begin at the Paris court of appeal regarding the "organized fraud" conviction against the French branch of this organization that is considered a cult by French authorities. Six of the movement's officials and the SEL Scientology bookstore will also appear at the trial, which is scheduled to last until December 1.

    On October 27, 2009, the Paris correctional court imposed a fine of 400,000 euros on the "Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology - Celebrity Centre" and of 200,000 euros on the bookstore for "organized fraud".

    Four members of the Church of Scientology who were convicted of the same charge received suspended prison sentences ranging from 10 to 24 months - the longest going to Alain Rosenberg, who is considered one of the movement's leaders in France. Two other members were fined 1,000 and 2,000 euros for "complicity in the illegal practice of pharmacy".

    For this new trial, defense lawyers will use various tactics to seek the repeal of the entire first trial decision and to gain acquittal. Certain parties may raise priority issues of constitutionality.

    The lawyers will argue that the first decision undermines freedom of religion and freedom of association. "Scientology's fault is that it is religion that was born in the twentieth century," said one of the defense lawyers, Michel de Guillenchmidt, in an interview with Associated Press. In his view, "The court failed to understand freedom of conscience and freedom of religion."

    Eight defendants - six individuals and two legal entities, will be retried. The appeal court will examine the methods and practices of both organizations, in particular the sale of a device that is supposed to "measure changes in a person's mental state and allow a practitioner to draw conclusions about the individual's personality." This "E-meter" is sold to followers for 4,800 euros.

    The case began when a former follower filed a formal civil complaint in December 1998. In May 1998, she was accosted by Scientologists at the exit of a subway station. The association first offered her a personality test and an appointment to interpret the results.

    Over time, the complainant spent 140,000 French Francs (21,340 euros) for books, a communication course, a "life repair", and "purification packs". To pay for this, she had to take out loans and empty her bank accounts. When she demanded the refund of these sums, the association refused and proposed instead that she sign a protocol, but she declined. According to the defense, these sums have since then been reimbursed to this complainant.

    It was learned from a judicial source that, at the appeal trial, the complainant is expected to withdraw as a plaintiff. However, the defense is on edge because the UNADFI ("National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and the Individual") will again be present, even though its request to join the plaintiffs was turned down at the first trial. Scientology's lawyers also intend to submit arguments to have UNADFI declared inadmissible.

    Another plaintiff is the National Order of Pharmacists, which opposes the sale of vitamins by the association and had filed a complaint for "illegal practice of pharmacy".

    At the end of the first trial, the prosecution requested the dissolution of the church and of the bookstore, but this penalty was abolished in May 2009 because of a reform to simplify the law. It has since been restored, but it can only apply to offenses committed after the restoration. On account of the dissolution requests, Scientology has initiated civil litigation against the government for 900,000 euros.

    Considered a religion in the United States, Spain and Sweden, the movement founded in 1954 by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard has been classified as a cult in France since 1995.



    A Nov. 2, 2011 article in Le Figaro contains much of the information that has already been posted about the 2009 conviction for organized fraud and the Nov. 3, 2011 appeal trial, but it also provides this detail (translation):

    Nouveau procès contre la Scientologie

    "Aude-Claire M. withdrew from her complaint by a letter dated December 8, 2010. There is no longer any physical victim," Michel de Guillenchmidt, one of the defense attorneys, said today.

http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?25295-France-Initial-plaintiff-withdrew-from-Nov.-3-appeal-trial
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« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2011, 01:46:18 PM »

                   Church of Scientology appeals French fraud conviction


PARIS — The Church of Scientology launched an appeal Thursday against a French court ruling that found it guilty of fraud for fleecing vulnerable followers and fined it hundreds of thousands of euros.

The 2009 conviction saw Scientology's Celebrity Centre and its bookshop in Paris, the two branches of its French operations, ordered to pay 600,000 euros ($820,000) in fines for preying financially on several followers in the 1990s.

Arriving for the hearing at a Paris court, the group's spokesman Eric Roux said he hoped the appeal would "expose the truth of this matter, which was judged in a scandalous manner the first time."

The original ruling, while it stopped short of banning the group from operating in France, dealt a blow to the movement best known for its Hollywood followers such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Alain Rosenberg, the French leader of the movement, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined 30,000 euros on the same charge of fraud.

Five more Scientologists were given fines ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 euros for fraud or the illegal practice of pharmacy after plaintiffs said they were given vitamins and concoctions to improve their mental state.

France regards Scientology as a cult, not a religion, and has prosecuted individual Scientologists before, but the case marked the first time the organisation as a whole had been convicted.

Olivier Morice, a lawyer for Unadfi, an organisation that campaigns against sects and is a plaintiff in the case, said the appeal was unfounded and accused the movement of being a business instead of a religion.

"For us, Scientology is a business, whose main goal is to elicit money from its followers," he said outside the court.

The appeal opened with the movement's lawyers arguing for a postponement on the grounds that a justice ministry circular instructing judges on how to deal with cults had singled out its practices.

The court rejected the motion, but said it would consider a second request for a dismissal based on a number of constitutional questions, including whether the case was being dealt with "within a reasonable delay" since the incidents involved dated to the late 1990s.

The court said it would rule within a few days on the dismissal request.

The original case followed a complaint by two women, one of whom said she was manipulated into handing over 20,000 euros in 1998 for Scientology products including an "electrometer" to measure mental energy.

A second claimed she was forced by her Scientologist employer to undergo testing and enrol in courses, also in 1998. When she refused she was fired.

Founded in 1954 by US science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology is recognised as a religion in the United States. It claims a worldwide membership of 12 million and 45,000 followers in France.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jTOjGc1F8bT5YA_D9zv1JecPObqw?docId=CNG.05ef6098d03ca3f6ae535c992af6d23d.b1
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« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2011, 07:18:12 AM »


Re: France: Scientology appeal trial Nov. 3 - Dec. 1, 2011

    Translation of a French article posted on Nov. 8, 2011 on the website of weekly news magazine Le nouvel Observateur:

    http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/societe/20111108.FAP7667/scientologie-cinq-qpc-rejetees-par-la-cour-d-appel-de-paris-la-defense-en-presente-une-nouvelle.html

Scientology: Paris appeal court rejects 5 questions of constitutionality, defense adds a new one

November 8, 2011

PARIS (AP) - The Paris court of appeal, where the French branch of the Church of Scientology is on trial for "organized fraud", refused on Tuesday to refer to the Court of Cassation any of the priority questions of constitutionality raised by the defense. The defense responded by filing a new priority question of constitutionality and by reintroducing two questions that had just been rejected.

The French branch of Scientology, the SEL Scientology bookstore, and five members of the movement are being retried until December 1. They are suspected of having exploited the vulnerability of their followers to extract money from them.

Two of the priority questions of constitutionality focus on the "reasonable time frame" to hear a case and on the statute of limitations. The other three concern the penal responsibility of legal entities.

The Paris court of appeal decided that the first two were not admissible for reasons of form. The lawyer that raised these questions, Gérard Ducrey, who is defending a former president of the French branch of Scientology, reintroduced the questions after making adjustments for conformity.

The attorney for the bookstore, Louis Pamponet, filed a new priority question of constitutionality in which he questions the refusal of the Court of Cassation to submit its jurisprudence to the Constitutional Council. In his documents, he states that "to avoid any interference" by the Constitutional Council in its jurisprudence, the highest court is "withholding from referring any priority question of constitutionality bearing on its interpretation."

The court will deliver its decision on Thursday morning at 9 A.M.

At the first trial, the Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology - Celebrity Centre was fined 400,000 euros and the bookstore was fined 200,000 euros for "organized fraud". Four of the movement's officials received suspended prison sentences ranging from ten months to two years for the same offense. Two other members were handed fines for "illegal practice of pharmacy."

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« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2011, 07:33:23 AM »

                       Paris court rejects effort by Scientology Church
November 8, 2011

   
PARIS—A Paris appeals court has rejected a bid by the Church of Scientology to get the group's fraud conviction thrown out because the case has taken too long.

The lawyers had asked the appeals court to allow France's highest judicial body, the Court of Cassation, to rule on whether too much time had elapsed since the alleged fraud took place in the case dating to 1998.

The refusal of that request means the appeals hearing will move forward. It is set to finish on Dec. 1.

The court is reviewing the 2009 conviction of the church's French branch, its bookstore and six of its leaders.

The group is accused of pressuring members into paying large sums for questionable remedies and using "commercial harassment" against recruits.


http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2011/11/08/paris_court_rejects_effort_by_scientology_church/
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« Reply #29 on: November 12, 2011, 01:45:29 PM »

Re: France: Scientology appeal trial Nov. 3 - Dec. 1, 2011

    Translation of an article posted online on Nov. 11, 2011 in the French edition of Slate:
    Scientologie: les grandes manoeuvres pour échapper à la justice
    Scientology maneuvering to escape justice

    by Emmanuel Fansten
    November 11, 2011

    Convicted of organized fraud in 2009, the organization is trying one maneuver after another to torpedo the appeal trial.

    With Scientology, justice is often a matter of miracles. Missing files, vanishing complaints, endless procedures ... Trials rarely unfold normally when they involve the heirs of L. Ron Hubbard. The trial that began on November 3 at the Paris court of appeal is no exception.

    At the first trial in 2009, the prosecution demanded the outright dissolution of Scientology's two principal entities in France, the Celebrity Centre and its SEL bookstore.

    Unfortunately, a mysterious legislative revision that was discreetly voted into law a month earlier precisely prevented the dissolution of a legal entity convicted of fraud.

    At the time, this matter caused a big stir. Certain members of the National Assembly even spoke of infiltration by Scientology at the heart of the Justice Ministry. Following an internal investigation, it was finally discovered that the change in the law was due to a "blunder" by a civil servant at the National Assembly.

    The malaise became even harder to quell when Scientology, claiming it was wronged by the prosecution's illegal requests, filed a lawsuit for gross negligence against the French government for one million euros in damages and interest...

    Buying off complaints

    Despite these complications, the first trial ended in a harsh conviction for Scientology. The principal defendants were handed suspended prison sentences ranging from ten months to two years.

    Moreover, Scientology as a legal entity was convicted of organized fraud and of the illegal practice of pharmacy, and fined 600,000 euros. It was not just the underlings, but the Scientology system itself that was excoriated by the French justice system in 2009.

    Two years later, the organization is determined to avenge this slight and, to avoid any new conviction that would be catastrophic in terms of image, Scientology is willing to pay a high price.

    According to an internal source, Scientology's legal department has spent more than one million euros on the current trial. This amount includes the fees of its lawyers - more than half a dozen at the hearings - but also payments to victims to have them withdraw their complaint, an old Scientology method.

    The last victim to accept a settlement in return for her silence was Aude-Claire Malton, the only plaintiff who held out from the pressures all the way to the first trial.

    In court, the young woman described her first contact with Scientology, one evening in May 1998 at the Opéra metro station.

    After taking a "personality test", she was diagnosed as having a psychological fragility and was referred to the Scientology center in Paris. The new recruit then spent 21,500 euros in just a few weeks for courses and books, liquidating her home-savings account and her life insurance. Though financially ruined, she was even escorted by a Scientologist to a credit institution ...

    "An unhealthy climate"

    It is impossible to know how much money the young woman received for her retraction. However, now that all the victims have withdrawn their complaints, only two plaintiffs are left at the appeal trial: the Order of Pharmacists and the UNADFI, the principal French anti-cult association.

    The situation is considered intolerable by Scientology, which for many years has repeatedly complained about a "thought police" funded by the government. In a thick press package distributed to journalists in the lead-up to the trial, L. Ron Hubbard's organization violently attacked the UNADFI:

    "Its use of the courts for partisan purposes and its intervention to shape the testimony of former parishioners to match its own freedom-stifling agenda are the source of the rumors that surround this trial."

    This line of defense is largely being followed by Scientology's lawyers. "We are not in a trial, we are in a fight," asserted one of the attorneys on the first day of the hearings. In addition to attempting without success to adjourn the case and raising multiple priority questions of constitutionality to delay addressing the substance of the trial, the lawyers have also complained about the "unhealthy climate" and "psychosis" surrounding this affair.

    It would take an effort to be fooled. Behind these procedural maneuvers, Scientology, which was classified as a "cult" by a 1995 parliamentary report, is first and foremost trying to shift the debate toward concern over religious freedom. In fact, an expert in this area, Michel de Guillenchmidt, has opportunely joined the ranks of the defense attorneys.

    A well-known lobbyist for the Jehovah's Witnesses, Michel de Guillenchmidt has for years toiled to have France convicted of religious discrimination, a cause that is also intensely promoted by Scientology itself, which does not hesitate to complain about each conviction to the European Court of Human Rights.

    "This trial will be a chance to ask the real questions about the treatment of religious minorities in France," Scientology recently said in a statement. It is not certain, however, that denying the legitimacy of the trial is a defense that will satisfy the court. Unless a new miracle comes along to save the Scientologists.

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