French prosecutor seeks dissolution of Scientology
PARIS (Reuters) – A French prosecutor on Monday recommended a Paris court should dissolve the Church of Scientology‘s French branch when it rules on charges of fraud against the organization.
Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France, where it has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult.
The Church’s Paris headquarters and bookshop are defendants in a fraud trial that began on May 25.
Summing up her views on the case, state prosecutor Maud Coujard urged the court to return a guilty verdict and dissolve the organization in France.
The Church of Scientology denies the fraud charges and says the case against it violates freedom of religion.
A ruling is expected within months.
French prosecutors urge court to shut down Scientologists
Prosecutors Maud Morel-Coujard and Nicolas Baieto called on the court to dismantle the movement’s French structures, the Scientology Celebrity Centre and an associated bookshop in Paris, and fine them each EUR two million (USD 2.75 million).
They also demanded a four-year suspended jail sentence and EUR 150,000 fine against the French centre’s founder, Alain Rosenberg, and asked the court to deprive him of civic and civil rights for five years.
The prosecutors further asked for suspended jail sentences of up to three years and fines of up to EUR 50,000 against five other top French Scientology officials.
“A whole series of fraudulent maneuvers were used in the search for new followers,” Morel-Coujard told the court.
The defence will plead its case on Tuesday and Wednesday and the court will issue a verdict in several weeks’ time.
Buyer beware! What you should know about Scientology.
In our opinion, the Church of Scientology hides behind a so-called ‘religion’ made up by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard — a science fiction writer with a marked inability to separate truth and fiction.
If you want to improve your life there are countless safer, cheaper and more effective ways to do so than to get tangled up in a religious cult.