Scientology Crime Syndicate

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21 September, 1999

Mystery of sect 'swindlers' and the court's shredded evidence

Seven leaders of the controversial Church of Scientology sect went on trial yesterday accused of swindling members out of thousands of pounds.

The defendants, all French - five of them women - are said to have forced gullible new members to pay up to 550 for a "health consultation" and 15,000 for injections of phoney vitamins. They face 10 years in jail.

The trial opened in Marseille amid accusations that the Church of Scientology has placed "moles" on the court staff and in the higher reaches of the French justice system.

Ten days ago the prosecution discovered that 3d tons of evidence against the defendants had been shredded. France's Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou ruled that court officials destroyed the vital papers, audio cassettes and videos by accident and ordered the hearings to go ahead.

The judge threw out a claim by Xavier Delamare, leading Scientologist in Southern France, that there could not be a fair trial because of the suspicion over the missing evidence.

The sect has long been under fire for illegally practising medicine. The cost of a "consultation" with a Scientologist ranges between 50 and 550. To "expel drugs and toxins" - a favourite sect phrase - sauna sessions with vitamin injections cost up to 15,000. Delamare insists: "The Church of Scientology never swindles anybody. All members are free to join or leave as they wish. It is untrue that they are subject to any moral pressure."

But two former members, Jean-Jacques Greneron and Raymond Scapilleto, will tell the court they were victims of fraudulent practices over the sale of cures and therapy. The sect, founded by science fiction writer Ron Hubbard in 1954, claims eight million members on whom it imposes iron discipline and demands unquestioning loyalty.

A French parliamentary report accused it of "destabilising the minds of members" and making "exorbitant financial demands" on them but it is still legally authorised in France.

Star members include Tom Cruise, wife Nicole Kidman and John Travolta who has claimed the "Church" is the target of persecution.

Scientology President Heber C. Jentzsch said in Los Angeles he would complain to the UN Human Rights Commission that government religious intolerance in France threatens the right of minority religious members to a fair trial.

The sect accuses opponents of a slander campaign but this is the third time vital documents in a Scientology case have disappeared. France, with 45,000 Scientology members, accounts for a tenth of the sect's 60m-a-year budget.

Express Newspapers Ltd

(includes picture of Jean-Jacques Greneron and Raymond Scapilleto with caption, "WE WERE VICTIMS: Former sect members Greneron, left, and Scapilleto outside court yesterday.")


Sue, SP4(:), listed on the Scieno Sitter list 5 times!

"It will take a *long* time to find another enemy with the combination of evil and incompetence you see in Scientology."--Keith Henson


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