Scientology Crime Syndicate

BBC News, 9/20/99 -- James Coomarasamy

The charges against the seven Scientologists date back to the late 1980s. They are accused of obtaining large sums of money from other members of the church by fraudulent means.

The case has captured the public interest after it was revealed that 50 boxes of evidence against the defendants had gone missing from the Marseille prosecutor's office. It is the second case against Scientologists in recent years where documents have gone missing.

But despite the justice minister's saying that the disappearance in Marseille was due to a mistake, the exhibit has renewed calls for the church to be banned. The Church of Scientology, which claims to have 40,000 members in France, already figures on an official list of cults and sects regarded as being dangerous.

Last week, the head of a government committee investigating cult activities accused the church of infiltrating the French presidency. Lawyers for the seven defendants in Marseille argue that a fair trial is impossible in the current atmosphere.



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