Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

New French economy minister signals changes to 35-hour week

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Valls ♥ Business

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Terrorist ransoms: Should governments pay up for hostages?

Read more

ENCORE!

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche star in 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Read more

WEB NEWS

India: journalist launches "Rice Bucket Challenge"

Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Kiev says Russian troops have entered Ukraine

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • Air France pilots announce week-long strike in September

    Read more

  • Erdogan's inauguration paves way for constitutional change

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Air France suspends flights to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

  • Airstrikes and Assad - Obama’s military conundrum in Syria

    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)