Belgium: Two Scientology fraud cases under investigation

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Scientologie: deux affaires toujours en cours d'instruction en Belgique

Scientology: Two cases still under investigation in Belgium

February 3, 2012

The Church of Scientology, whose conviction for organized fraud was confirmed on appeal by a court in France on Thursday, is also the subject of two judicial cases in Belgium concerning charges of fraud. Both of these cases, which should soon be merged into one, are still under investigation.

In the first case, the Church of Scientology is charged with fraud and with being a criminal organization. The case began in 1997 and, ten years later, the federal prosecutor's office requested a criminal trial against twelve individuals and two entities, one of which is the European Office of the Church of Scientology International. All of the accused denied the charges. In May 2009, the defense for several of the accused asked the Council Chamber for additional investigations. This request, which was approved in part, was reviewed on appeal in November 2009 by the Indictment Division. "The case is still under investigation," confirms Xavier Magnée, a lawyer for several of the defendants in this matter. The federal prosecutor has already written the indictment, but officially, the case remains under investigation. The prosecutor's office is, in fact, awaiting the imminent conclusion of the investigation into a second, more recent case, in order to combine them for a possible criminal trial. In this second case, the Church of Scientology based in Uccle was indicted in April 2008 on charges of forgery and fraud. The investigation concerns dubious employment contracts and was launched following information received from Actiris, the Brussels regional employment office.

The European Office of the Church of Scientology did not wish to comment on developments in the two Belgian cases under investigation. In Paris, the Church of Scientology criticized the Thursday verdict, describing it as "flawed and unfair", and said it would "immediately" take the case to the Court of Cassation. However, this verdict is not expected to modify the organization's activities in Belgium. The European Office of the Church of Scientology International told the Belga News Agency that, "Whatever happens in France, we will not change anything in our humanitarian activities in Belgium."

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