GRENOBLE, France, Sept 22 (AFP) – A French court Monday delayed until June the trial on appeal of a Franco-Swiss conductor, Michel Tabachnik, suspected of helping to brainwash 74 members of the Solar Temple doomsday cult who died in the 1990s.
The second trial of Tabachnik, 60, which was due to start Monday, was brought by prosecutors who appealed his acquittal in an earlier trial in June 2001.
It was delayed Monday to June 14 at the request of two lawyers for some of the dead members’ families, as a criminal investigation has been launched against the main psychiatric expert in the case for allegedly violating client-lawyer and client-doctor privileges.
Tabachnik is suspected of contributing to the deaths between 1994-1997 of 74 members of the cult whose burned bodies were found in isloated woodland clearings in France, Switzerland and Canada.
Several of the dead were shot or asphyxiated in what were apparently ritual murders, although some are thought to have been willing participants in mass suicides.
Tabachnik, a former conductor of orchestras in France, Canada and New York has denied the charges and the first case against him collapsed because of lack of evidence.
During that trial, he told the court that he had been drawn into the cult by its charismatic guru, Joseph di Mambro, and its esoteric philosophy, part of which convinced followers that they must die in a blaze to attain bliss in the afterworld.
Among the dead were the two founders of the sect, Luc Jouret and Di Mambro.