French Scientologists lose appeal of fraud conviction

Full story from France 24

France’s highest appeals court on Wednesday upheld a fraud conviction against the Church of Scientology, which was appealing a 2009 ruling against five church members as well as its Celebrity Centre and a Scientology bookstore in Paris.

Guilty

The French branch of the Church of Scientology was found guilty of organised fraud in 2009, a ruling that was upheld in a February 2012 appeal.

Five plaintiffs in the case accused the church of persuading them to spend tens of thousands of euros on personality tests as well as bogus vitamin cures, sauna sessions and “purification packs”.

The court levied fines totalling €600,000 on the Celebrity Centre and the Scientology bookstore in Paris. Four French Scientology officials received suspended prison sentences while the church’s leader in France, Alain Rosenberg, received a €30,000 fine as well as a two-year suspended sentence.

The appeal claimed that the religious liberties of the defendants were being infringed, but the prosecution argued that the case did not hinge on questions of religion and was a simple case of fraud.

The church had indicated that if its appeal was rejected it would seek recourse at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

A ‘cult’ in France

Although it is considered a religion in the United States, Sweden and Spain, a 1995 French parliamentary report called it a “dangerous cult”.

French courts convicted Scientology members of fraud in 1997 and 1999, while the church was fined for violating privacy laws in 2002.

Founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the Los Angeles-based church bases its beliefs on a close study of his book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health”. The organisation claims a global reach with 10 million members in 165 nations – including 45,000 in France – and high-profile celebrity devotees like John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

The church has fought numerous lawsuits around the world since its establishment in 1954, both to fend off accusations of fraud or manipulation and to seek legal recognition as a religion.

Story from France 24

Jonny Jacobsen, who has followed the French case closely and written about it extensively on his site has just published his write-up on this latest decision. His site is highly recommended for anyone wanting to learn about the background to this case.

2 Responses

  1. Fantastic new. Read some more and got answers. Law change protecting them can be overturned.

    Like

  2. Why is it when an organisation like the above, when found to profit from fraudulence, is not closed down? Why are the fraudsters able to avoid being imprisoned?

    Like

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