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Ididntcomeback
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« Reply #30 on: November 14, 2011, 04:53:18 PM »

                       Fri Nov 11, 2011


It did get pretty heated in the courtroom this morning.

For three hours or so, the various defence lawyers explained why the
appeal court should follow the lead of the original trial court and
refuse the request of UNADFI, the counter-cult movement, to be accepted
as plaintiffs in the case. When, after three hours, Morice got up to
respond to the attacks against his client -- and some against his own
professional standing -- things very quickly degenerated, to the point
that the judge was forced to adjourn the proceedings to break up a
shouting match between Morice and the defence lawyers, and call in the
bâtonnier.

The bâtonnier is a senior lawyer attached to the court, elected by his
and her peers, who mediates disputes between lawyers and their clients
and -- as in this case, between courtroom lawyers. It is is job to to
knock heads together to get a solution. Once the lawyers, the judges
and the bâtonnier had met in chambers, the judge adjourned proceedings
until Tuesday.

The core of the dispute came from lawyer Olivier Morice's response to
complaints by the defence lawyers against him. They pointed out that he
had earlier characterised their launch of a string of QPCs as bad faith. (QPCs
are Priority Questions of Constitutionality, technical attacks on the case to
get it adjourned or even killed off before the appeal trial takes place. In fact,
the defence lawyers argued, it was Morice who was guilty of bad faith: they
accused him of having, at the 11th hour, offered fresh grounds for his application
on behalf of UNADFI without having given them the required notice of his change of
tactics.

Morice, when he tried to argue that these arguments had in fact been long present
in the case documents, he was subjected to a combined verbal assault from several
defence lawyers. Naturally, having sat through three hours of their pleadings, he objected
to being interrupted and gave as good as he got -- so the exchanges quickly deteriorated
into a shouting match. It looks as if this will be settled one way or another if Morice can
produce the relevant document from the existing case files -- failing that, he will have to
find a fall-back position.

Even once this is settled however, other procedural issues still have to
be decided before we actually get to the meat of the case -- assuming
the court does not accede to any of the remaining defence requests to
have the case thrown out, referred to the Cour de Cassation (Supreme
Court) etc... So far however, they have rejected eight QPCs.

In the original case, Morice represented not just UNADFI
and one of the individual plaintiffs in the case -- so he was free to
intervene when he wanted in the case. Now that the plaintiff has
withdrawn from the case, he needs to be able to retain his presence in
court by having UNADFI accepted as a plaintiff in its own right -- or at
the very least have the court attach the request to the dossier to be
decided at the same time the case is decided (as happened at the
original trial). In the latter case Morice could, I think, continue to
play the same active role as before, even if his request was eventually
refused -- and that is just the eventuality the defence lawyers are
trying to head off.

Morice's interventions in the original trial were often quite telling --
in particular, he was able to introduce compromising Scientology
documents many of which eventually featured in the final judgment. And
the questions he put to two of Scientology's experts witnesses, who were
there to support the scientific credentials of the e-meter, drew
damaging admissions from them that undermined Scientology's efforts (see
The E-Meter Experts in my earlier coverage).

If Morice is definitively excluded from the appeal court proceedings, it
will inevitably have an effect on the trial -- Olivier Saumon,
representing the Order of Pharmacists on the lesser charges, has kept
strictly to the events that concern his clients: essentially the
Purification Rundown. We've not yet had a chance to see what the
prosecutor in this case is made of (it was a younger pair who appeared
at the original trial). Inevitably however, cannot have the specialist
knowledge that Morice, by virtue of his work with UNADFI, has acquired.

But all the documents and arguments already submitted to the court
remain in the dossier and will still be there for the judges to consult.
So if Morice was forced out of the trial, if it went ahead without him,
it would be a coup for the defence, but not necessarily conclusive.

More if/when I have time....

Jonny Jacobsen
http://infinitecomplacency.blogspot.com/


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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« Reply #31 on: November 18, 2011, 08:12:08 AM »

Former Scientology president filing theft complaint

November 17, 2011

http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/societe/20111117.FAP8036/une-ancienne-presidente-de-la-scientologie-porte-plainte-pour-vol.html

English translation follows...

PARIS (AP) - A former president of the French branch of the Church of Scientology intends to file a complaint against X for theft, the organization announced Thursday, explaining that this follows the disappearance of documents in the case currently being tried by the Paris court of appeal.

In a statement, the Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology - Celebrity Centre, says it is joining the complaint which is about to be formalized by a former president of the organization, Sabine Jacquart, a defendant at the trial.

"The Church has discovered that several documents, all of which concern the UNADFI's application as a plaintiff, have mysteriously vanished from the case file. This disappearance comes at a time when the legitimacy of recognizing the UNADFI as a plaintiff is being strongly challenged by the Church," said the organization, which is considered a cult in France.

The organization accuses the court of appeal of having refused to allow the defense to consult the case file to verify "the authenticity of the disputed documents, in violation of the basic rights of the defense." He is "surprised to discover that, in fact, many of these documents have simply disappeared from the case file."

In a letter to the Paris court of appeal, Sabine Jacquart emphasizes that this [sic] document is "essential regarding the ability and entitlement to act of a plaintiff that has been hounding me through its attorney." The defense has been seeking the rejection of the UNADFI (National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and the Individual), but the court decided to annex this matter to the substance of the case. This means that the court will rule on this question in its final decision.
=--------------------------------------------------------

The defence lawyers in the trial on appeal of Scientology staged a mass walk-out this morning after the judge rejected their ninth QPC (Priority Question of Constitutionality). From the brief comments made outside the court their position is that they cannot proceed when the scales are tipped agains them. The central issue appears to be the judge's decision at the previous hearing to effectively allow counter-cult group UNADFI to play an active part in the proceedings by deferring until after the trial whether or not their application to be treated as plaintiffs in the case should be accepted.

The final QPC, filed on Tuesday after the judge's decision regarding UNADFI, concerned just this question of égalité des armes, having the same rights and opportunities as the prosecution and the plaintiffs. Scientology having settled with all the individual plaintiffs, the lawyers for the defendants had tried everything to get the trial either delayed or the previous judgment set aside. When that failed and the trial of the facts of the case looked like going ahead, they launched an attack on UNADFI, questioning its right to be there as plaintiffs. The decision of Judge Claudine Forkel to defer a ruling on the issue effectively meant that Olivier Morice, for UNADFI, would have been able to play exactly the same role that he had in the initial trial.

The defence argument appears to be that this means the dice are loaded against them in court and they cannot proceed under those conditions.

It took Judge Forkel less than five minutes to read out her ruling rejecting the final QPC and a defence lawyer made a brief statement saying they could not continue under such conditions and staged their mass walk-out. The judge immediately suspended the hearing. The lawyers for Scientology are preparing to release a statement that will set out their position in more detail.

Outside the court, Scientologist Eric Roux said there was no point in remaining when their most basic rights had been denied and every argument they put forward was rejected. Outside the court, Olivier Morice for UNADFI, described the walk-out as laughable. The defence team, he added, had, with their multiple QPCs, been pursuing a carefully thought-out but nevertheless suicidal strategy from the start of the trial.
http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threa...3#post-1959340

It may simply be that they are abandoning the trial on appeal to concentrate on pleadings at the Cour de Cassation to try to get the convictions overturned on legal grounds. Morice describes it as a suicidal strategy, even if it was clearly carefully planned: but it's not over until the last gavel has fallen. If they do decide to boycott the trial on appeal, the judge has announced that the trial goes ahead without them, but the sight of the empty defence benches has a fairly powerful symbolic value, which they will no doubt try to exploit. They will argue that it shows that proceedings have been stacked against them.

Or this may just be a piece of courtroom theatrics and they will return to the proceedings at a later date. Watch this space...

UPDATE: according to the latest report from Reuters, the issue is indeed that of UNADFI's role in the trial.
http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threa...4#post-1959400

Thursday's hearing resumed without the defendants and their lawyers and the court began looking at the facts of the case.

As things stand, since there appear to be no witnesses lined up and the defence will not be making its contribution, it looks as if the trial may well wind up by the end of next week instead of the first week of December, as originally scheduled.



http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/11/scientology_sto.php
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« Reply #32 on: November 23, 2011, 07:23:02 PM »

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

    Update posted on Nov. 22, 2011 by Jonny Jacobsen ("Albion") on WWP:

    http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threads/france-scientology-appeal-trial-nov-3-dec-1-2011.88104/page-5#post-1965727

    A few interesting developments at today's hearing and outside the court.

    A few hundred Scientologists gathered opposite the Palais de Justice to denounce what they say is a heresy trial and and "justice sous influence" -- effectively that someone has influenced the court against them. Potentially more important however, is a point of form that Olivier Morice, for counter-cult group UNADFI brought. If it is borne out by the documents in the case, it could disqualify the appeal brought by one of the personnes morales, the Scientology organisations: in this case, l'Association Spirituelle de l'Eglise de la Scientologie CC (ASES), or the Celebrity Centre.

    ASES was convicted at the original trial of organised fraud. Eric Roux, a leading Scientologist in France, appeared to speak for ASES at that trial -- he himself was not in anyway implicated in the offences being tried. In court today Morice, after hearing the appeal judge summarise the charges against ASES and how it had defended itself at the original trial, said he wanted to raise a point of form.

    He reminded the court that earlier in the current proceedings, the defence lawyer had tried to get the court to throw out UNADFI's request to be granted the status of partie civile -- injured party or plaintiff -- at the trial. Among a number of objections raised, one was that UNADFI President Catherine Picard, had not been properly mandated to act in court as UNADFI's representative. That, said Morice, had prompted him to check the paperwork regarding Eric Roux's standing in the appeal trial.

    He now suggested to the court that the relevant paperwork in which the appeal had been lodged had not been properly formulated: that it had been filed in Roux's name when he had no standing to represent ASES at the trial on appeal. So while Roux had been mandated to represent ASES at the original trial, it was not at all clear to Morice that he had been granted the same powers to do the same on appeal. If there was such a mandate in the files, he was not he had seen it, he said.

    Morice made it clear that it was the reasoning of his colleagues on the defence side that had got him thinking along these lines. So after several days of procedural arguments brought by the defence, Morice now appears to have take a leaf out of their book.

    Hugues Woirhaye, for the prosecution, seemed a little taken aback by this development, but agreed that if the application had not been made out in the required manner then that could indeed pose a serious problem.

    The court will now look through the dossier to see if it can find the required document mandating Roux in the correct manner. If it is not there, then the appeal, for ASES at least, was not filed properly and so does not legally exist: that would mean the original judgement and conviction -- so far as ASES is concerned -- becomes definitive. ASES could not go to the supreme court (the Cour de Cassation) because they did not fulfil the procedural requirements at the appeal stage.

    Earlier Tuesday, Catherine Picard, president of UNADFI gave evidence, as she had at the original trial. The main aim was to answer some of the procedural objections brought by the defence lawyers before their walk-out last week, of which more perhaps at a later date.

    The court then continued to consider the evidence before, with the president of the court reading out key extracts from the previous trial, the defendants' interviews with investigators and key passages from the experts' reports. Olivier Saumon, for the National Council for the Order of Pharmacists, set out their case for the charges relating to the illegal practice of pharmacy.

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« Reply #33 on: November 24, 2011, 08:43:09 AM »

Photos of the Scientologists picketing outside the court in France.

Ready made banners. They actually should read. "I will do what Scientology tells me to do."

http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?23207-France-Scientology-appeal-trial-Nov.-3-Dec.-1-2011/page4
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« Reply #34 on: December 22, 2011, 07:27:34 PM »

                          The appeal trial: preparing the ground

Even before its appeal opened, Scientology fought back against the 2009 fraud convictions with accusations of judicial bias and suggestions of political pressure.

There was a lot of talk during Scientology’s 2009 Paris trial for fraud and the illegal practice of pharmacy about the preserving the serenity of the debate.

Legal proceedings are in theory meant to shine a light on the events in question: the heat of vigorous debate, past a certain point, becomes counter-productive.

And yet, periodically, the proceedings would descend into bitter exchanges between the battery of defence lawyers and Maître Olivier Morice, the lawyer for one of the plaintiffs.

Maître Patrick Maisonneuve, the lawyer for Scientology’s Paris Celebrity Centre (l’Association spirituelle de l'Eglise de Scientologie (ASES)), had a particularly sharp turn of phrase. The defence’s star performer, his provocative asides had a combustible effect on Morice, who refused to let certain remarks pass unchallenged.

President of the Court, Judge Sophie-Hélène Château, was repeatedly obliged to intervene as Morice, Maisonneuve and various others members of the defence team exercised their considerable vocabularies on each other.

Eventually, the lawyers would recover their composure. They would wax lyrical about the dignity of the court, the need for serenity in the proceedings: then, within minutes, hours – a day perhaps at most – they would be at it again.

Finally however the trial was completed, the verdict announced and the sentences handed down en bonne et du forme: by the book – or so it seemed at the time.

Two years later however, as the trial on appeal approached, the defence was challenging not just the original judgment but also with the general climate in which the appeal would be taking place.

Already in June 2011, four months before the appeal proceedings were due to start, they had announced they were suing the French state for a million euros over a controversy that had its roots in the original trial.

Lead prosecutor Maud Morel-Coujard had called for the dissolution of the two Scientology organisations on trial, relying on a law that provided for this penalty in the case of an organisation found guilty of organised fraud.

The problem was that this particular penalty no longer existed: just weeks before the start of the trial, the law in question had been modified.

The crucial article of the criminal code was deleted on May 12, part of a complex batch of amendments to the law that deputies had voted through – which is why it initially went unnoticed by most observers.
.
News of the change only broke in September 2009 – three months after the prosecutors had delivered their closing speech and several weeks before the judgment was due.

The revelation provoked an outraged response not just from Scientology’s critics but from two unions representing the legal profession: for some, there was more than a whiff of conspiracy in the air.

Government spokesmen insisted the change was nothing more than a mistake and the article in question was quickly reinstated. But that was too late for it to be applied in this trial.

Whatever had happened – however it had come to pass – most observers had concluded that the immediate beneficiary had been Scientology. But in the lawsuit they filed against the French state, Scientology portrayed itself as the injured party.

In its statement announcing the action, it recalled that the original position of the prosecutor’s office – after an eight-year investigation – had been that there was no case to answer.

An Scientology spokesman said that with the trial producing nothing new in what was already an empty dossier, “… a prosecutor takes it upon herself to call for an illegal penalty, pulled out of the hat, in total contradiction with the written conclusions of the prosecutor.

“I have strong doubts as to her impartiality…,” the unnamed spokesman added.[1]

This was laying it on a bit thick.

Cui bono?

It was certainly true that the initial position of the prosecutor’s office had been that there was no case to answer. But the investigating magistrate had thought differently – as was his right – and it was he who had drawn up the charges and sent them for trial.

Similarly, the trial prosecutors – Coujard, assisted by colleague Nicolas Baïetto – were perfectly at liberty to take their own view of the affair. And it quickly became clear that they did not share their colleague’s position.

Coujard’s call for the two Scientology associations on trial to be dissolved had made headline news at the time – headlines that certainly made uncomfortable reading for the movement.

Now they were accusing her of “faute lourde … erreur grossière” – in effect, serious misconduct. And since the law did not allow them to go after her personally, they were pursuing the state to get satisfaction.

But Coujard had recommended the use of a penalty which, until just a few weeks before the trial, had been a legitimate part of the legal arsenal at her disposal. If she had been caught out by the change to the law, she was far from being the only one.

There was no conceivable advantage to the prosecutor in calling for a penalty that no longer existed. The whole affair had, to put it mildly, been an embarrassment for them.

To question her professional integrity then was, to put it mildly, disingenuous. Indeed, if it was a question of cui bono – who had benefitted most from this fiasco – for most observers the answer was clearly Scientology.

Soon after the news broke in September 2009, the French news weekly Le Point reported that Scientology had known about the change in the law at a very early stage.

Le Point quoted a July 2009 email exchange between William C. Walsh, one of Scientology’s US lawyers, and a journalist from the Wall Street Journal. In it, Walsh had pointed out the crucial change in the law missed by the prosecutors.

Walsh said he had been informed of the change in the law just after the prosecutors had made their closing argument calling for dissolution.

So, as the magazine put it in its headline: “Scientology knew it was untouchable”.[2]

Maisonneuve himself told Le Point that a colleague had spotted the change in the law even before the prosecutors had presented their closing arguments.

Asked why he hadn’t dropped this bombshell when the prosecutors had called for the now non-existent penalty to be applied, he pointed out that they had been calling for an acquittal, not pleading mitigation.

“We didn’t want to make any publicity until the judgment,” he added.

Maisonneuve dismissed as “grotesque” any suggestion that Scientology might somehow have had a hand in getting the law changed.

Scientology’s June 2011 statement made much the same point, if in rather more extravagant terms: they had had as much to do with this change in the law as the Christians did with the great fire of Rome in AD 64, they declared.[3]

Far being beneficiaries of this fiasco then, the Scientologists presented themselves as victims of the political and media storm the controversy had generated.

This fevered, uninformed speculation had poisoned the atmosphere against the movement to such an extent that it was impossible for the movement to get a fair trial, they argued. [4]

'Political pressure'

A few weeks before the appeal was due to start Scientology produced what they said was fresh evidence to support their case that the dice were being loaded against them.

This time the culprit was a justice ministry circular, published in September, on “…vigilance and the struggle against cult-like tendencies”.[5]

The five-page circular, addressed to prosecutors and judges, was a review of the legal territory regarding cults – and a reminder of the legal remedies available to the courts.

It listed several offences the courts should be aware of in the context of cults, including fraud, abuse of confidence, extortion and manslaughter.[6]

The document made no mention of Scientology.

But for Scientology, preparing to appeal organised fraud convictions against two of its main organisations in France, this was too close to home.

The movement denounced the document as an attempt by the executive to tip the scales of justice against them.

In a statement issued on November 3 – just a few days before the trial was due to start – they announced that they had requested the case be pushed back in the calendar to ensure the court’s independence.

The ministry circular had “pre-condemned the Church, without naming it,” the statement said.[7]

Scientology blamed the circular Miviludes, the government’s watchdog on cult abuses, attached to the prime minister’s office.

The executive arm of the state was trying to interfere with the judicial process, Scientology argued: the serenity of judicial proceedings had been violated.

“For the defence lawyers, the court cannot serenely examine the case under such executive pressure, brought about by Miviludes,” the statement said. [8]

The pressure from the executive, said Maître Gérard Ducrey for Scientology, threatened to “…throw to the lions the men and women whose only wrong is to have dedicated themselves to a faith of which Miviludes disapproves.”

Scientology vowed to expose both the emptiness of the case against it and the executive pressure designed to shore up the “incoherence” of the charges against it.[9]

In the event, the trial went ahead as originally scheduled – and at no point did the defence even attempt to address the substance of the prosecution case.

http://infinitecomplacency.blogspot.com/2011/12/appeal-trial-preparing-ground.html
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« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2012, 06:48:12 PM »

                                French court to rule in Scientology appeal
 
Published on Feb 2, 2012

 
PARIS (AFP) - A Paris court is to rule on Thursday in an appeal against a fine of hundreds of thousands of euros imposed on the Church of Scientology after it was found guilty of fleecing vulnerable followers.

A 2009 fraud conviction saw Scientology's Celebrity Centre and its bookshop in Paris, the two branches of its French operations, ordered to pay 600,000 euros (S$986,551) in fines for preying financially on several followers in the 1990s.

The original ruling, while stopping 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.
 
http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/World/Story/STIStory_762177.html

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gwtWz_83MU3nuVdXSNrURSz_aveA?docId%3DCNG.fb962feea373c177fa8b0366a1e124f3.291

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/scientology-in-dock-in-france/story-e6frg6so-1226260885671
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« Reply #36 on: February 02, 2012, 10:17:01 PM »

                               French court upholds Scientology fraud conviction

A French appeals court on Thursday upheld the Church of Scientology's 2009 fraud conviction on charges it pressured members into paying large sums for questionable remedies.

By PIERRE-ANTOINE SOUCHARD

Associated Press

PARIS —

A French appeals court on Thursday upheld the Church of Scientology's 2009 fraud conviction on charges it pressured members into paying large sums for questionable remedies.

The case began with a legal complaint by a young woman who said she took out loans and spent the equivalent of euro21,000 ($28,000) on books, courses and "purification packages" after being recruited in 1998. When she sought reimbursement and to leave the group, its leadership refused to allow either. She was among three eventual plaintiffs.

Karin Pouw, a spokeswoman for the church in Los Angeles, denounced Thursday's decision, calling it a "miscarriage of justice."

She said the group would appeal the decision to the Court of Cassation and plans to bring a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. Another complaint in pending with a U.N. special rapporteur.

During the appeals process, the prosecution had asked for the church to be fined at least euro1 million ($1.3 million) and its bookstore euro500,000. But the appeals court on Thursday instead ordered the same fines as the trial court, euro400,000 ($530,000) for the church and euro200,000 for its bookstore.

In the original trial, prosecutors had tried to get the group disbanded in France, but the court declined even to take the lesser step of shutting down its operations, saying that French Scientologists would have continued their activities anyway.

"The environment in the court was so prejudicial that defense attorneys walked out of the proceedings in protest, refusing as a matter of conscience to participate in proceedings that had degenerated into a charade," Pouw said by phone.

While Scientology is recognized as a religion in the U.S., Sweden and Spain, it is not considered one under French law.

Founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the church teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems. It claims 10 million members around the world, including celebrity devotees Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Belgium, Germany and other European countries have been criticized by the U.S. State Department for labeling Scientology as a cult or sect and enacting laws to restrict its operations.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2017399020_apeufrancescientology.html?syndication=rss

"Suck on that Miscavige."

http://infinitecomplacency.blogspot.co.nz/
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« Reply #37 on: February 03, 2012, 07:33:51 AM »

       French court upholds Scientology fraud conviction – CBS News


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 — Feed: Google News

The world had almost forgotten that Scientology was convicted for Fraud in France.
But in a Public relations disaster masterstroke, Scientology came back to remind everyone.


Likely duplicate(s): Yahoo! News/asiaone.feedsportal.com, Yahoo! News/deseretnews.com, Google News/Jakarta Globe, Google News/Fox News, Yahoo! News/news.yahoo.com, Yahoo! News/ca.news.yahoo.com, Google News/TODAYonline, Yahoo! News/officialwire.com, Google News/San Francisco Chronicle, Yahoo! News/seattletimes.nwsource.com, Google News/Bangkok Post, Google News/ABC News, Google News/BlueRidgeNow.com, Google News/Boston.com, Google News/StarNewsOnline.com, Google News/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Google News/Yahoo!7 News, Google News/The Associated Press, Google News/STLtoday.com, Yahoo! News/wqow.com, Yahoo! News/kswo.com
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« Reply #38 on: February 05, 2012, 10:40:10 PM »

                                Scientology in France: Still Guilty of Fraud

By Tony Ortega Thu., Feb. 2 2012

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/02/scientology_in_4.php
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« Reply #39 on: February 08, 2012, 12:05:07 PM »

                      France: Gloria Lopez suicide investigation reported discontinued

    Translation of a French article posted on Feb. 7, 2012 on the maville.com website:
    http://www.paris.maville.com/actu/actudet_-Une-enquete-sur-le-suicide-d-une-adepte-de-la-Scientologie-classee-sans-suite_fil-2098969_actu.Htm
    February 7, 2012

    (AFP) A preliminary investigation into the 2006 suicide of a follower of the Church of Scientology in Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine) was discontinued last June, said a judicial source on Tuesday.

    According to this source, the investigation did not succeed in building a case to prosecute the Church of Scientology, against which a complaint was filed by the children of the deceased woman in October 2008.

    Her children reported the matter to judicial authorities because they believe that debts incurred by their mother due to her involvement with Scientology were what led her to take her life.

    Her family's suspicions began after the discovery in her home of letters and documents referring to a litany of expenditures and debts for the benefit of the Church of Scientology.

    On December 21, 2006, Gloria Lopez, who had been a member of the Church of Scientology for ten years, ended her life at age 47 by letting herself be hit by a train at the Colombes station.

    Scientology, which has been classified as a cult by several parliamentary reports in France, was founded in 1954 by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and is considered a religion in the United States and in some European countries. It claims to have more than 10 million followers worldwide and 45,000 in France.

    The two principal Scientology entities in France - the Celebrity Centre and its SEL bookstore - saw their conviction for "organized fraud" confirmed on February 2 by the court of appeal, a decision that constitutes a first in France and has been described as "historic" by opponents of the Church.

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« Reply #40 on: February 09, 2012, 08:49:52 PM »

                        Arnaud Palisson vindicated by Scientology's fraud conviction in France

    Arnaud Palisson, a police officer who monitored cults for France's domestic intelligence agency, obtained a Doctor of Law degree in 1982 and the subject of his doctoral thesis was how the Church of Scientology violates the law. After the thesis was posted on the internet, Scientology and its lawyers complained to the French government, and Palisson's superiors eventually ordered him to remove the thesis or face re-assignment. Palisson refused to take the thesis offline and he later relocated to Canada, where he currently lives.

    In a February 7, 2012 blog post, Arnaud Palisson writes that the Paris court of appeal's February 2 decision confirming Scientology's organized fraud conviction vindicates the stand he took ten years ago. Here is a translation:

    10 ans après, ma thèse sur la Scientologie est confirmée par la Cour d’appel de Paris
    ou La revanche du paria du renseignement sur la haute administration française

    Ten years later, my thesis about Scientology is confirmed by the Paris court of appeal
    or
    Revenge of the pariah of the intelligence community over top French officials

    http://media.linkedin.com/mpr/pub/im...d-palisson.jpg

    by Arnaud Palisson, February 7, 2012
    (unofficial translation)

    Last Thursday, February 2, 2012, the Paris court of appeal upheld a decision of the correctional court and convicted two Parisian Scientology entities as legal persons for fraud, aggravated by the fact that the offenses constituted organized fraud, committed by using a personality test to fraudulently persuade victims to purchase Scientology goods and services. The court issued fines totaling 600,000 euros - nearly one million Canadian dollars. This is the most severe penalty ever imposed for fraud against an organization in France.

    Exactly ten years (and a few hours) ago, on February 1, 2002, at Cergy-Pontoise University, I defended my doctoral thesis in criminal law, which was devoted to the Church of Scientology. Using only open sources, I argued that it is necessary to:

        prosecute Scientology organizations in France, in particular for organized fraud, aggravated by the fact that the offenses constitute organized fraud

    and

        systematically seek to establish the criminal liability of the legal person involved

    in particular, because of the use of the personality test to fraudulently persuade victims to purchase Scientology products and services.

    At that time, I was a police officer in the Central Directorate of General Information (DCRG - now DCRI). I worked as an intelligence analyst responsible for monitoring cults at the national level. In October 2002, I presented a 3-hour lecture about the Church of Scientology before a hundred or so French and foreign judges, diplomats, and military and police officials at the National Magistrates School (ENM) in Paris.

    On this occasion, I gave copies of my thesis to two judges. One was Belgian and he was investigating an important Scientology case; the other was French and she was investigating the huge Church of Scientology-Paris Celebrity Centre case (the same case that ended last week at the court of appeal).

    From that point on, my thesis never left the desk of the two judges. It also landed on the desk of a Swiss judge a few months later.

    Despite the succession of judges that investigated the case of the Paris Celebrity Centre, my thesis remained the key legal reference document. The investigation, which began in 1999 in a traditional manner, underwent a strategic change of direction in the light of my university work. Gradually, the investigating judges:

        used the internal terminology of the Church of Scientology, as I recommended,
        looked into the real functions detailed in the organization chart that I provided,
        focused mainly on the criminal charge that I advocated, namely fraud, aggravated by the fact that the offenses constitute organized fraud,
        sought to establish, as I advocated, the criminal liability of legal persons.

    My thesis was known only to a few persons, but it became public on November 13, 2002, when Le Figaro published a full-page article about it by Christophe Cornevin. On the same day, my thesis was posted in full on the internet - via the website of Roger Gonnet, former head of the Church of Scientology of Lyon, who became the cult's chief opponent in France.

    Scientology's Parisian officials are usually well informed, but they did not see any of this coming.

    Nevertheless, Scientology reacted speedily and with some effectiveness. The following month, the Church, through its lawyers, officially asked the Minister of Education to revoke my Doctor of Law degree. The organization said that my work was partisan and devoid of objectivity or of any scientific methodology. However, Scientology did not obtain any response from the Ministry of Education.

    When the Church of Scientology learned that the Swiss publisher Favre was preparing a version of my thesis for the general public, it approached Pierre-Marcel Favre and urged him to abandon the project, at the same time providing a disingenuous analysis of my thesis. This second attempt also failed.

    (Note: I posted on the internet a long and scathing refutation of the arguments put forward in the two documents just mentioned.)

    Paradoxically, it is when the Scientology organization, out of desperation, turned to the Ministry of the Interior that it achieved some success.

    In April 2003, lawyers for the Church of Scientology in Paris contacted the office of then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. They requested that my doctoral thesis be withdrawn from the internet. They found a sympathetic ear in the person of the chief of staff, Claude Guéant (who today is Interior Minister).

    In keeping with the principle of administrative dominoes, a directive from the chief of staff then percolated down to me. My director told me, in substance:: "Either you withdraw your thesis from the internet or you leave the Cults and Sects group."

    My thesis stayed put, but not me.

    A month later, my book appeared in bookstores. I became a sort of pariah, a civil servant that no one knew what to do with.

    While I was packing my boxes to leave for an assignment at the newly created MIVILUDES (Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Sectarian Abuses), I suddenly got radio silence. The president of MIVILUDES, Jean-Louis Langlais, did not even take the trouble to call me on the phone to tell me that my transfer was canceled.

    In the meantime, lawyers for the Church of Scientology put pressure on the director of the National Magistrates School. The training center on Île de la Cité was placed off-limits to me. My successor there was journalist Serge Faubert, who has a very deep understanding of the Scientology organization and who wrote what today remains an essential investigative book about it. And to the judges who asked him where to look for legal references about Scientology, Serge Faubert (I thank him for this) answered by showing them my book!

    After spending a few months on the sidelines in another group at the DCRG, I asked for and obtained a transfer to the other end of the corridor, to an anti-terrorist section. I stayed there two and a half years.

    Ultimately, my thesis did find favor in the eyes of a handful of investigating judges in Europe. My adventures are told in part by an article in Charlie-Hebdo and a documentary that aired on Canal+. But, for the policeman that I am, something is seriously wrong:

        I was dumped by my superiors - who earlier had hired me for my specialization.
        The Interior Ministry officially portrayed me as a partisan civil servant.
        MIVILUDES suddenly forgot my very existence.
        The professional training center for judges slammed the door in my face, as it would to a hard-core delinquent.

    But last Thursday, exactly ten years after I defended my thesis, the Paris court of appeal delivered a slap in the face to all those civil servants who only carried out orders: I was right.

    Let there be no mistake. I am neither bitter nor vengeful. Given the way that MIVILUDES evolved, I know I would not have lasted two months there. Moreover, with Claude Guéant as head of the Interior Ministry, my career progression would have suffered.

    Finally, my administrative setbacks are in large part what led me to go to Canada to see if the grass is greener there. And this undeniably is the case.

    In other words [as Edith Piaf sang]: Non, rien de rien. Non, je ne regrette rien.
    ["No, nothing at all. / No, I regret nothing."]

    But 5,500 kilometers from Paris, an ocean away and 10 years later, please permit me to exult.

Links here...

http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?26217-Arnaud-Palisson-vindicated-by-Scientology-s-fraud-conviction-in-France
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« Reply #41 on: February 17, 2012, 10:49:20 AM »

                                       Conviction Upheld On Scientology
Claimed It Defrauded Members
by Pierre-Antoine Souchard

(AP) A French appeals court last Thursday upheld the Church of Scientology's 2009 fraud conviction on charges it pressured members into paying large sums for questionable remedies.

The case began with a legal complaint by a young woman who said she took out loans and spent the equivalent of (euro) 21,000 ($28,000) on books, courses and “purification packages” after being recruited in 1998. When she sought reimbursement and to leave the group, its leadership refused to allow either. She was among three eventual plaintiffs.

“It's a severe defeat for the Church of Scientology, which is hit at the very heart of its organization in France,” Olivier Morice, a lawyer for the National Union of Associations Defending Family and Individual Victims of Sects, told reporters after the decision.

Karin Pouw, a spokeswoman for the church in Los Angeles, de- nounced last Thursday's decision, calling it a “miscarriage of justice.”

She said the group would appeal the decision to the Court of Cassation and plans to bring a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. Another complaint is pending with a U.N. special rapporteur.

About 50 Scientologists—holding signs saying “No to a heresy trial” and “No to justice under pressure” — protested outside the Paris court hours after the decision.

During the appeals process, the prosecution had asked for the church to be fined at least (euro) 1 million ($1.3 million) and its bookstore (euro) 500,000. But the appeals court on Thursday instead ordered the same fines as the trial court, (euro) 400,000 ($530,000) for the church and (euro) 200,000 for its bookstore.

Five members of the church who were convicted in the first trial were ordered to pay fines ranging from (euro) 10,000 to (euro) 30,000. Four of them were also given suspended sentences between 18 months and two years.

In the original trial, prosecutors had tried to get the group disbanded in France, but the court declined even to take the lesser step of shutting down its operations, saying that French Scientologists would have continued their activities anyway.

Pouw said Thursday that the church was continuing its missions without any restrictions.

“The environment in the court was so prejudicial that defense attorneys walked out of the proceedings in protest, refusing as a matter of conscience to participate in proceedings that had degenerated into a charade,” she said by phone.

While Scientology is recognized as a religion in the U.S., Sweden and Spain, it is not considered one under French law.

Founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the church teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems. It claims 10 million members around the world, including celebrity devotees Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Belgium and Germany have been criticized by the U.S. State Department for labeling Scientology as a cult or sect and enacting laws to restrict its operations. France also considers Scientology a sect.

http://www.timesnewsweekly.com/news/2012-02-09/Feature_Stories/Conviction_Upheld_On_Scientology.html
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« Reply #42 on: February 23, 2012, 02:33:53 PM »

         Translation of a French article posted on Feb. 22, 2012 on the website of the weekly Swiss magazine L'illustré:   Out on 22 nd Feb 2012



                            TWELVE YEARS OF HELL

GENEVAN WOMAN HELD AGAINST HER WILL BY SCIENTOLOGY

By convicting Scientology of organised fraud early in February, the Paris court of appeal indirectly sent a strong signal to 34-year-old Valeska Paris, a former Scientology member who now lives in Sydney. She was held against her will beginning at the age of 18 on the "Freewinds", the pride of the Scientology fleet. It was an odyssey to the edge of madness.

by Blaise Calame
L'Illustré
February 22, 2012


"I was subjected to brainwashing for the first 29 years of my life. I had to readapt myself to the world. Women of my age had an adolescence and they've had romances. Not me." The story of Valeska Paris, a 34-year-old Genevan woman, is chilling. She was caught in a trap by Scientology long before the age of reason and today she is trying to rebuild her life in Sydney, where she works in event management.

Valeska was born in Meyrin (Canton of Geneva) on December 12, 1977. "I remember that we lived near the French border," she says, during a telephone interview. Jean-François Paris, her father is French, and Arianne, her mother, Swiss. The couple had three children, Valeska being the eldest. Her sister Melissa was born in 1979 and her brother Raphaël in 1982. They were a Scientology family.

The Genevan childhood of the Paris siblings came to an end with the divorce of their parents. Valeska was only 6 years old. The father, who obtained custody of the children, joined the Sea Organisation, a sort of Scientology elite, in East Grinstead, England.

The children were boarded in the Cadet Organisation, where education consists chiefly of scrubbing floors and cleaning toilets. According to Scientology, every human being has lived thousands of lives over the centuries; a person's spirit, called a "thetan", is imbued with that experience. A child is thus a synthesis of multiple prior existences. Scientology is not for people who don't take such things seriously.

STEP-FATHER'S SUICIDE

Although they were divorced, both parents remained inside the cult. Valeska's mother, Arianne, remarried a Frenchman, Albert Jaquier, a former scrap metal dealer who built up a veritable fortune that he soon dilapidated by spending it on Scientology, before committing suicide in December 1994. The indifference and contempt displayed by the cult drove his widow to denounce the nefarious organisation on the TF1 television channel, a move that cost her children dearly. For Scientologists, Valeska's mother had become a pariah, or a "suppressive person". That year, Valeska saw her mother for the last time in what turned out to be a very long time. At age 14, Valeska was forced to sign a contract binding her to the cult "for a billion years" (sic)!

Valeska was transferred to the Flag Land Base, the headquarters of the Sea Org, in Clearwater, Florida, where she was assigned to serve Scientology's leader, David Miscavige, an American.

In September 1996, when Valeska was 18, Miscavige sent her to his flagship, the Freewinds, which cruises the Caribbean. "They woke me up one morning and I left," she says, "for what was supposed to be two weeks ..." She remained on the ship twelve years, unable to contact her family and with no visits allowed.

"The first time I went aboard," says she, "I hated it. I immediately wanted to leave, but my passport had been confiscated and we were under surveillance twenty-four hours a day. It was impossible to escape. I gave up." Any form of misconduct was severely punished. The engine room, with its noisy furnace, served as a jail cell, and Valeska Paris often found herself confined there ...

The most advanced Scientologists visit the ship for a spiritual training session called "Operating Thetan Level 8" or OT VIII - a course that costs $8,000. Every month of June, there is a Maiden Voyage, an annual commemorative cruise, that attracts flocks of followers. Valeska Paris remembers, in particular, a surreal visit by Tom Cruise (see sidebar).

MARRIED TO A GHOST

On May 9, 1998, Valeska married Roberto Toppi, a member of the Italian Sea Org, but he turned into a real ghost. "During seven years of marriage, we spent less than ten months together," sighs Valeska. Their divorce took place in 2005.

On the Freewinds, the Genevan was exploited for 50 dollars a week. She began in 1996 as a waitress. Six years later, she became an auditor and an instructor. "I was stuck in a trap," she says. "That was the only life I knew. I was taught that Scientology was the only answer and I had no reason to doubt it." Indoctrination is perverse.

However, she saw people having breakdowns. Other persons who were once held up as models would suddenly become stigmatised. David Miscavige behaved like a tyrant. In 2007, during one of her confinements to the engine room, Valeska Paris lost consciousness and nearly died.

As Valeska approached the age of 30, she developed a single ambition: to escape. She was considered dangerous because of her unpredictable behaviour. This made her a perfect candidate for Scientology's re-education camp or, in Scientology jargon, the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), which is located in Sydney. "Sea Org officials decided my fate," she says, "but I didn't care, as long as I could get off the damn ship." The organisation required that she accept the assignment in writing. She consented.

A RAIN OF REPRISALS

In the RPF, in Sydney, Valeska met Chris Guider, a Scientologist who had also been sentenced there. He became her second husband on March 23, 2009. A son, Declan, was born on July 22, 2010. In late August 2009, before their son's birth, the couple broke away completely from Scientology. Valeska Paris signed confidentiality agreements, but this did not stop her from speaking out.

The response was a rain of reprisals. While she was pregnant with Declan, Valeska received messages of insults from her father and her brother, both of whom, unlike her sister Melissa, remained Scientologists, her father in Chicago, her brother in Los Angeles. Valeska managed to re-establish contact with her younger sister and, especially, with her mother, Arianne, whom she had not seen for fifteen years.

In Australia, Valeska is rebuilding her life. She is even expecting a second child. Her best weapon against the Church of Scientology, which has tried to silence her by sending her threatening letters, is her testimony. Valeska Paris Guider no longer allows herself to be intimidated: "I don't think I will ever be sued, because I have enough to implicate David Miscavige in person, and Scientology will never take the risk of exposing him to a court."
Sidebar

WHEN TOM CRUISE IS ABOARD ...

Tom Cruise is Scientology's number two.

In June 2004. all hands were on combat alert aboard the Freewinds, where Tom Cruise chose to celebrate his 42nd birthday on July 3. The staff was briefed. "Asking for an autograph was totally forbidden and would be punished," remembers Valeska Paris. No familiarity toward the star would be allowed either: he had to be addressed as "Sir".

Just before D-Day, Valeska developed a cold sore. This was an "offence" equivalent to "treason", and Valeska was quarantined. However, leader David Miscavige insisted on having Valeska serve the actor and his girlfriend, Penelope Cruz.

In violation of all ship rules prohibiting any intimacy on board, the couple occupied the most beautiful cabin. A private yacht took them scuba diving. All for free! "A Chinese chef was even specially brought in from New York to cook for Tom Cruise, who was on a diet," says Valeska.

To cater to the movie idol's narcissism, "the ship was decorated with giant posters from all his movies, except for those with Nicole Kidman [who is anti-Scientology (Editor's note)] and, during the party, the orchestra played songs from these movies." A delusional personality cult.

http://www.illustre.ch/scientologie-Valeska-Paris-Free-winds-secte-sequestration_149000_.html
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« Reply #43 on: February 28, 2012, 11:43:20 AM »

                       The Yeshiva world news

                        French Court Upholds Fraud Conviction Against Scientology

(Monday, February 27th, 2012)

An appeals court in Paris upheld fraud convictions involving two central organizations connected to the Scientology Church in France.

The Celebrity Center was fined 400,000 euro and the Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology (ASES), an affiliated bookstore, was fined 200,000 euro for their role in the fraud.

In addition, five senior Scientology officials, including Alain Rosenberg, the president, were convicted of fraud and deception and given heavy fines as well as suspended prison sentences. Rosenberg was fined 30,000 euro and given a two-year suspended sentence.
Advertise On YWN »

The Church of Scientology was convicted of fraud in a lower court in 2009. The case followed complaints filed by two former church members, who said they had been cheated out of money by the organization. One of them said she had given 21,000 euro to the organization. After leaving the group, she asked to be reimbursed, but the Church of Scientology refused, she told the court.

This isn’t the first time fraud charges were brought against the cult. Scientology, founded in the 1950s by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, immediately drew harsh criticism. The main charge is that it makes exaggerated demands of money from its members and uses a variety of means to exercise undue influence over them.

Scientology, which is known as “the wealthiest cult in the world,” received the status of a religion in the United States and in several European countries. However, in the late 1990s, state commissions of inquiry in France and Belgium determined that it is a cult. (A Belgian prosecutor, Jean-Claude Van Espen, who studied the church’s activities for 10 years, went so far as to ask that it be classified a criminal organization.)

Government reports in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Israel have similarly determined that Scientology is a cult.

The French appeals court confirmed that Scientology is a fraud. It accepted the testimonies of former cult members who described how they had been cheated of huge sums of money.

It also heard testimony from representatives of the National Union of Associations Defending Family and Individual Victims of Sects, who described the devastating effects of membership in the Scientology cult: debts, financial ruin, broken families, and a general feeling of being enslaved. The situation is a direct result of the “cult tactics” that Scientology employs on vulnerable people, representatives said.

French jurists noted that the ruling is a precedent in that it convicts the church itself of fraud, not just its leaders. Observers are now waiting to see whether the ruling will lead to a ban of the cult and an end to its activities.

Yad L’Achim, which has led the battle against cults in Israel, applauded the ruling. In recent years, Yad L’Achim conducted a campaign that helped close two of the cult’s centers in Jerusalem and has brought its sole school in Israel, located in Yehud-Monsoon, to be on the verge of closing.

Despite these successes, Yad L’Achim officials stress that the cult is very active in Tel Aviv, Haifa and other cities. According to Yad L’Achim’s information, thousands of Israelis participate regularly in cult activities.

“We will continue to act to heighten awareness of the danger, to awaken people to the cult’s fraud and deception, and to hope that the court ruling in France will put brakes on the cult worldwide,” an official said this week.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General%2BNews/119430/French-Court-Upholds-Fraud-Conviction-Against-Scientology.html
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« Reply #44 on: March 02, 2012, 02:42:19 PM »

                                    Church Of Scientology Ordered To Pay $789K

Posted by ThirdAge Staff on March 1, 2012

The Church of Scientology in France was ordered Thursday by an appeals court to pay nearly $789,000 for unfairly taking money from followers.

The appeals court, which confirmed a 2009 fraud conviction, also upheld a fine of about $39,000 and a two-year suspended jail sentence for Scientology movement leader Alain Rosenberg and upheld or increased fines, now about $13,000-$39,000, against five other Scientologists, Radio France Internationale reported.

But the church was not banned from operating in France.

The convictions were for fraud or illegal practice of pharmacy. Plaintiffs said they were given vitamins and concoctions the group said would improve their mental state.

"This is very good news for those who fight against cults and a serious defeat for the Church of Scientology," said Olivier Morice, lawyer for plaintiff Unadfi, a group that campaigns against sects.

France considers Scientology a cult or sect, not a religion, and has prosecuted individual members but 2009 marked the first time the Church of Scientology as a whole had been convicted.

http://www.thirdage.com/news/church-of-scientology-ordered-to-pay-789k_03-01-2012
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