Saturday, January 31, 2009
A trial date has been set in a fraud case against the Church of Scientology in France. The date for the first hearing has been set for May 25, 2009. If the Church is found guilty, then Scientology would be ruled illegal and would be banned from operating in France.
Prosecutors claim that the Church is engaged in illicit practices in attempts to sell their alleged self-help material. The Church also faces charges of illegally operating as a pharmacy by illegally treating individuals with prescription medications.
The charges come from an unnamed woman, who in 1998 purchased nearly 140,000₣ (US$30,000) worth of Scientology self-help material which allegedly included prescription drugs. After a few months passed, the woman said she felt like she was being scammed.
Following several complaints from other unnamed individuals and an investigation, judge Jean-Christophe Hullin ordered the Church's 'Celebrity Center', and the seven managers to be put on trial for fraud and "illegally practicing as pharmacists."
On September 8, 2008 the Church released a statement following the order to stand trial saying that they felt "stigmatized" by the French judicial system.
"The special treatment reserved for the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center raises questions about the equality of the justice system and the presumption of innocence," the Church said in a statement to the press.
This is not the first time the Church has been accused of fraud in France. They have also been convicted of it several times, including the Church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard who was convicted of fraud in 1978. In 1997 the Church was convicted of fraud in Lyon and 1999 in Marseille. The 1978 convictions included Hubbard and his wife at the time, Mary Sue, both now deceased, and two other Scientologists.
The 1978 convictions included Hubbard and four Scientologists after a seven year investigation into the Church by the French authorities. The court ruled that Hubbard and the others were using Scientology by making fraudulent claims that it was curing people from diseases to "increase the financial revenue" of the Church, and the ruling ordered Hubbard and the Scientologists to serve four years in prison.
However, Hubbard, along with the four Scientologists fled France, never to return, and never served a prison term.
== Related news ==
"Church of Scientology in France accused of fraud; ordered to stand trial" — Wikinews, September 8, 2008
== Sources ==
Lilly von Marcab. "Church Of Scientology To Go On Trial in France On Drug and Fraud Charges" — RushPRnews.com, January 30, 2009
"Scientology to be put on trial in France for fraud" — Thaindian.com, January 29, 2009