Church of Scientology in France accused of fraud; ordered to stand trial

Monday, September 8, 2008

According to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Church of Scientology in France will be facing a court trial, being accused of "organized" fraud. The AFP also states that seven other Scientologists will be charged with illegally prescribing prescription medication. If found guilty, Scientology could be banned in France.

According to the report, the charges come from an unnamed woman, who in 1998 purchased nearly 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 at least two Scientology departments and the seven Scientologists to be put on trial for fraud and "illegally practicing as pharmacists."

The Church released a statement following the order 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.

The AFP says the case is to be heard at an unknown date, and will also include an investigation by France's association for prescription drugs. Olivier Morice, a lawyer representing the unnamed woman and others in the case against the Church, say the trial could begin as early as 2009.

On September 5, an alleged rights group called the American Rights Counsel LLC attempted to have at least 4,000 anti-Scientology videos removed from the video sharing website YouTube, filing a DMCA request. Upon further investigation, Wikinews found that most videos and clips were added to YouTube by the copyright holders of the material; as DMCA requests are for the purposes of requesting removal where service providers host material that infringe on the copyright of the complainant, the merit of these requests remain questionable. It was also discovered that the alleged rights group does not exist as a physical entity which started rumors from the internet and from one Scientology critic Mark Bunker, that the Church fraudulently submitted the DMCA requests.


  Learn more about Scientology controversies and Scientology as a state-recognized religion on Wikipedia.