Scientology goes on trial in France.
This referral to a criminal court, presided over by investigating magistrate Jean-Christophe Hullin, may result in serious consequences for the organization. During the eleven days of scheduled hearings the organization’s future in France will be at stake, because dissolution could be imposed. While it’s true that this punishment would be enforced only on the organization’s two Paris offices, many feel that if applied, it would mark the beginning of the end of L. Ron Hubbard’s empire in our country.
During the trial, debate will center on the purpose of this organization. Does it really aim to promote a method of spiritual awakening, as it states, or is it a vast enterprise designed to part victims from their wealth, as the lawyer for the victims, Olivier Morice, contends?
For Mr. Morice, the trial is the culmination of a long arm-wrestling match between the courts and Scientology. “There was an important ruling in Lyon in 1997, that resulted in convictions for fraud. We are putting the methods of the organization before the same magistrates who heard that case 12 years ago. But this time, the courts may condemn the structure of the organization rather than those who it employs.”
Ruth Gledhill at Times Online, writing about doing a BBC call-in show on Scientology.
Pierre-Antoine Souchard via HuffPo
UPDATE: New York Times, on the church being found guilty