Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Child Migrants In America: What to do about the wave of unaccompanied minors?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Abbas Araghchi, Iranian deputy foreign minister

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

FOCUS

When water becomes a weapon of war

Read more

ENCORE!

Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ed Husain, Author of 'The Islamist'

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put to the test

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put to the test (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Pakistan: Imran Khan, from the cricket field to politics

Read more

  • IS video purports to show beheading of second US journalist

    Read more

  • Could France sell the Mona Lisa to pay off its debts?

    Read more

  • Video: Bodies ‘left behind’ as Ukraine forces flee rebel assault

    Read more

  • Trust and 'bio-disaster units' needed to fight Ebola

    Read more

  • France vows crackdown on unemployment benefit ‘abusers’

    Read more

  • Julie Gayet wins privacy case against French glossy Closer

    Read more

  • Germany blocks popular car pick-up service Uber

    Read more

  • Several UN peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion

    Read more

  • NATO plans new 'spearhead' force to counter Russia

    Read more

  • French clubs left behind as others spend big

    Read more

  • Britain drops arrest warrant for ill boy’s parents

    Read more

  • When water becomes a weapon of war

    Read more

  • Arab media strike back at IS Islamists – with cartoons

    Read more

  • US military targets Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group

    Read more

  • Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

    Read more

  • Boko Haram Islamists seize northeast Nigerian town

    Read more

  • Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao leaves Ligue 1 for Man Utd

    Read more

France

Law blocks Scientology from being disbanded despite fraud allegations

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-15

A new French law stipulating that fraudulent associations cannot be dissolved will have consequences for France's Church of Scientology, which went on trial for fraud in May. The maximum penalty now allowed is a ban on church activities.

REUTERS - A new French law means the Church of Scientology cannot be dissolved in France even if it is convicted of fraud, it has emerged during a trial of the organisation.

 

A prosecutor has recommended that a Paris court dissolve the church’s French branch, which has been charged with fraud after complaints by former members who say they gave huge sums to the church for spiritual classes and “purification packs”.


The Church of Scientology’s French arm denies fraud.


Whatever the ruling, under a legislative reform passed just before the start of the trial in May, it is no longer possible to punish a fraudulent organisation with dissolution.


The legal snag was discovered by the Inter-ministerial Unit to Monitor and Fight Cults. Georges Fenech, head of the unit, demanded on Monday that the legal power to dissolve an organisation be reinstated.


“Faced with organisations of a sectarian nature, which present a real danger to public order and public health, the law must always have such a measure at its disposal,” he said in a statement.


Prosecutors’ unions and a lawyer representing alleged victims of the Church of Scientology, Olivier Morice, called for an inquiry into the legal change and an explanation from the Justice Ministry.


Even if the law is changed again, it cannot be applied retroactively to the Scientology trial, which was held in May and June, with the ruling expected in late October.


Jean-Luc Warsmann, a member of the ruling UMP party who introduced the bill amending the law, said in a statement that the change made the maximum penalty for fraud committed by an organisation a ban on its activites in France.


He said he believed a ban was better than dissolution, since it meant an organisation could not continue its activities under a different name.


The church said in a statement on Monday its prosecution was “scandalous” and had already seriously harmed the organisation.


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.


The trial, which began on May 25, centres on complaints made in the late 1990s. Scientology’s French headquarters, a bookshop and six leading French Scientology members are in the dock.


Prosecutor Maud Coujard urged the court to return a guilty verdict, dissolve the organisation in France and fine it 4 million euros ($5.8 million).


Scientology’s lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve, has called the prosecutor’s recommendation a “death sentence” for the organisation in France.
 

Date created : 2009-09-15

COMMENT(S)