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Scientology in France is in danger of being dissolved.

Will French courts be setting a dangerous precedent?

 

 

Le Monde, France

Lawyer for Scientology France Rails Against Injustice

 

"Such a harsh indictment for people who haven't enriched themselves with even a cent of a euro! If the authorities believe that Scientology is a danger to public order, well, these authorities should take up their responsibilities! Let them say it. Because this is about arbitrating the issue of religion."

 

-- Patrick Maisonneuve, lead attorney for the Church of Scientology, France

 

By Yves Bordenave

 

Translated By Sandrine Ageorges

 

June 18, 2009

 

France - Le Monde - Original Article (French)

Science fiction writer turned religious prophet L. Ron Hubbard: The church he founded in 1954, which includes high-profile members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, may soon be booted out of France.

 

BBC NEWS VIDEO: Scientology goes on trial in France; could be fined heavily and banned, May 26, 00:01:26 RealVideo

Patrick Maisonneuve, attorney for the Church of Scientology association, is sure he's never seen anything like it. Before the Paris court, which has been trying six member of Scientology and its bookstore for "organized fraud" and "illegal use of pharmaceuticals" since May 25, Maisonneuve said, "After thirty years of practice, this is the first time that I've seen a request for acquittal pass to a pleading for capital punishment." The Scientology bookstore and library is being tried as a legal person in its own right.

 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Maisonneuve refers to the surprising request for dismissal by the public prosecutor at the end of the court investigation The court dismissed the request. In the United States a prosecutor would never had made such a request. This has been interpreted by some to show that the Sarkozy government, for who the prosecutors answer to, isn't too happy about pursuing the case. French courts operate under the Napoleonic Code rather than English common law, from which the U.S. derives its legal code].

 

Two days after the public prosecutor's office, represented by Maud Coujard and Nicolas Baietto, sought the dissolution of Scientology's organization in France, Maisonneuve and his clients yet to digest the "vehemence" of the charges. "It surprised me," one of the attorneys said during pleading. "Such a harsh indictment for people who haven't enriched themselves with even a cent of a euro!," he exclaimed.

 

This high flyer of the Paris Bar who is used to handling major cases, can find only one explanation: "The atmosphere the pressure." According to him, the trial was conducted in an atmosphere of "high tension." In France, Scientology struggles with a sulfurous reputation. In 1995, a parliamentary commission put it among the ranks of the sects, denying it the status of a Church which has been granted it in many countries. Maisonneuve listed them. Besides the United States where the organization founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard claims several million adherents, he recalled that Portugal in 1998, Sweden in 2000, the province of Quebec in 2006 and Spain in 2008, recognized Scientology as a Church.

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

Exasperation: Patrick Maisonneuve, attorney for the Church of

Scientology in France, says that in his thirty years on the Paris

Bar, he has never seen the government begin a trial by seeking

'acquittal' and end it seeking 'capital punishment.'

 

"If, in France, the authorities believe that Scientology is a danger to public order, well, these authorities should take up their responsibilities! Let them say it," thundered the attorney to the judges. "Let us not permit them to hide behind judges." Because according to Maisonneuve, the authorities want the court in Paris to do what they dare not do: ban Scientology. "You won't do it. Because this is about arbitrating the issue of religion," recalling that under French law, there is no definition of religion. The Constitution and the Declaration of Human Rights protect the freedom of citizens to practice the faith of their choice. "The Republic shall respect all faiths," emphasized Maisonneuve.

 

'THIS IS NO RELIGION'

 

For the defense attorney, the three weeks of hearings have revealed no evidence to corroborate the allegations of fraud. As far as the ongoing methods of scientologists?, asked Maisonneuve. "Those are from the 20th century. There's nothing shocking there," he said cuttingly. "The fees are high? Aren't they similarly high in other religions?, he asked. Maisonneuve went on to inform me, "At the Consistory of Paris, the prices for a marriage ranged from 6,000 francs [$1250] to 31,000 francs [$6,500]." (in 1998-1999, at the time of the alleged violations).

 

SEE ALSO ON THIS:

Le Figaro, France: Lawyer for Scientology Attacks Position of France

Le Parisien, France: 'Damning Testimony' from Former Scientology Leader

Le Monde, France: Scientology May Have a Friend in Sarkozy

Liberation, France: Court May 'Dissolve' Scientology in France

Bild am Sonntag, Germany: Scientology Seeks to 'Gain Power' in Germany

 

According to him, Aude-Claire Malton, one of the complainants who suffered the most from her time with Scientology - was never forced to pay any sum of money.

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

Aside from these complainants, Maisonneuve says he heard no witnesses. Those cited by the civil party revealed no facts. Thus, in regard to the testimony of Jean-Pierre Brard, a former member of the National Assembly for the French Communist Party who testified before the court on June 8, Maisonneuve said, "Brard is against all religions all the time. With Churchill, it was no sports. With Brard, it is no religion," he joked ironically. And he noted that since the beginning of the trial, no [Scientology] follower has sought a refund. "We are being asked to dissolve. But I ask you to dissolve prejudices, preconceived notions and attacks on freedom of expression," he concluded.

 

A verdict is expected on October 27th.

 

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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US June 20, 6:49pm]