Scientology Crime Syndicate

Hands off religion, Scientology tells French court

By Thierry Cayol

MARSEILLE, France, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Arguments in the fraud trial of seven French members of the Church of Scientology ended on Thursday with defendants insisting that the case was a religious matter that was none of the court's business. [Presumably fraud and racketeering is a major part of every religion - FLR]


Prosecutor Danielle Drouay-Ayral asked the court to jail Xavier Delamare, a former leader of the church in southeastern France, for 18 months with another 18 months suspended.

He also sought two-year suspended sentences against five other defendants and a nominal sentence for another who has turned against the church.

The court said it would return a verdict on November 15.


U.S. film star John Travolta, a member of the Church of Scientology, left Paris on Wednesday night, cancelling a news conference scheduled on Thursday on his film "The Colonel's Daughter."

French radio reports said he had wanted to avoid being called as a witness at the trial. His agent said he had left because the shooting of another film had been brought forward.


Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.


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