Scientology Crime Syndicate


September 9, 1999

Loss of Scientology Files Studied


MARSEILLE, France -- The Justice Ministry opened an investigation on Wednesday into the destruction of three tons of evidence that was to have been used in a trial of officials of the Church of Scientology. The prosecutor's office here said in a statement that the disposal of certain sealed files late last year was a result of a court clerk's negligence, not an intentional act. But Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou said the "malfunction" would be investigated.

France has long had a contentious relationship with the Church of Scientology, which is trying to be recognized as a legitimate religion in Europe. France registers the organization on a list of 173 groups that should be tracked to prevent cult activities.

An appeals court in Paris is widely expected to rule on Sept. 29 in a similar case against the Church of Scientology in which evidence also disappeared.

The documents in the latest case relate to an investigation that opened in 1990.

The group's leaders in Marseille and Nice were investigated for fraud, the illegal practice of medicine and premeditated violence. Seven leaders are scheduled to go on trial on Sept. 20. The loss of the evidence will not delay the trial, which was delayed in 1995 because of a procedural error, court officials said.

According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, a former member of the group, the lost evidence includes financial statements, notes about members and devices called electrometers that are supposed to measure self-control. The lawyer, Jean-Michel Pesenti, raised doubts about the court's contention that the files were accidentally destroyed.

"We can imagine anything," Pesenti said. "Why not an infiltration by Scientology?"


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