Scientology guilty of fraud rules French appeal court

Thursday, February 2, 2012

France's appeal court, the Court of Cassation, has upheld the findings of the lower courts in a 2009 fraud conviction of the Church of Scientology.

Scientology building in France.
Image: Dominique Pipet.

According to the ruling, the church has to pay €400,000, the church's bookshop has to pay €200,000, and the head of the Church of Scientology in France, Alain Rosenberg, has to pay €40,000 and has a two-year suspended sentence. Four other members of the Church have been given fines and suspended sentences.

The conviction for fraud was based on claims by a former member of the group that she had been put under pressure to buy books, courses and "purification remedies". She paid the group €21,000 after having taken out loans. Another claimant in the initial case had lost her job working for a Scientologist after refusing to participate in Scientology classes.

Approximately 50 Scientologists protested outside the courts in France with banners reading "non a la discrimination religieuse" ("no to religious discrimination") and "respectez notre liberte religieuse" ("respect our religious freedom"). France, along with Belgium and Germany, does not grant the Church of Scientology—which was founded in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction author—legal recognition as a religion unlike the United States.

Karin Pouw, a representative of Scientology, said the decision was a "miscarriage of justice" and said that the Church plans to appeal, possibly to the European Court of Human Rights.

  Scientology in France on Wikipedia.