A Paris appeals court has rejected a bid by the Church of Scientology to get the group’s fraud conviction thrown out because the case has taken too long, the Associated Press reports:
The refusal of that request means the appeals hearing will move forward. It is set to finish on Dec. 1.
The court is reviewing the 2009 conviction of the church’s French branch, its bookstore and six of its leaders.
In October 2009 a French court convicted the Church of Scientology and six of its members of organized fraud, but stopped short of banning the church.
The original case followed a complaint by two women, one of whom said she was manipulated into handing over 20,000 euros in 1998 for Scientology products including an “electrometer” to measure mental energy.
A second claimed she was forced by her Scientologist employer to undergo testing and enrol in courses, also in 1998. When she refused she was fired.
Investigating judge Jean-Christophe Hullin spent years examining the group’s activities, and in his indictment criticized practices he said were aimed at extracting large sums of money from members and plunging them into a ‘state of subjection’.
The investigator questioned what he called the Scientologists’ ‘obsession’ with financial gain, and the group’s practice of selling vitamins, leading to the charge of ‘acting illegally as a pharmacy’.
The group and bookstore were fined ‚¬600,000 ($830,000). Four leaders were given suspended sentences of between 10 months and two years. Two others were also fined.