Scientology? Mais, non!
Two French courts have convicted the Scientology group of mass manipulation and fraud, although they have not banned it from operating in the country.
The judgement comes after two women complained, one stating that she was defrauded into paying thousands of pounds during the 1990s for life-improvement courses and ‘vitamins’.
The sect’s Celebrity Centre and a bookshop have been hit with a 600,000 euro fine, while Alain Rosenberg, the group’s head in France, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined 30,000 euros. Three other leading members of the group were also fined.
France refuses to acknowledge Scientology to be a religion, stating that it is a purely commercial operation, according to reports from the BBC.
Over the past ten years, the BBC revealed that French courts have often fined individual leaders, but the latest ruling is the first time that the organisation has been charged with fraud.
The court was unable to impose a ban because of a legal amendment, passed just before the trial began, preventing the banning of an organisation convicted of fraud. However, that amendment has now been changed.