Tuesday, October 27, 2009

French Court Convicts Scientology and Its French Leaders of Fraud

A Paris Criminal Court today convicted two French affiliates of the Church of Scientology of fraud upon the complaints of two women who claimed they were manipulated into buying products or enrolling in courses. AFP and the London Times report that fines totalling 600,000 Euros (around $900,000) were imposed on Scientology's Celebrity Centre and its bookshop in Paris. Scientology's French leader, Alain Rosenberg, was given a suspended two-year jail sentence and fined 30,000 Euros. Five other defendants were fined from 1,000 to 20,000 Euros on charges of fraud and the illegal practice of pharmacy. The court was unable to order Scientology dissolved because of a change in the law passed by Parliament in May that precluded dissolution as a punishment for fraudulent associations. (Background). The court also is requiring Scientology to publish the court's judgment in six newspapers and magazines in France and abroad. Judge Sophie-Helene Chateau said that a fine would be more effective punishment anyway, since a ban on the group might just drive them underground. According to the New York Times, the church, which calls the verdict "an Inquisition for modern times," says it will appeal