France: Scientology appeal trial Nov. 3 - Dec. 1, 2011

mnql1

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Posted by Nov. 17, 2011 by Jonny Jacobsen ("Albion") on WWP:

http://forums.whyweprotest.net/thre...al-nov-3-dec-1-2011.88104/page-3#post-1959324

The defence lawyers in the trial on appeal of Scientology staged a mass walk-out this morning after the judge rejected their ninth QPC (Priority Question of Constitutionality). From the brief comments made outside the court their position is that they cannot proceed when the scales are tipped agains them. The central issue appears to be the judge's decision at the previous hearing to effectively allow counter-cult group UNADFI to play an active part in the proceedings by deferring until after the trial whether or not their application to be treated as plaintiffs in the case should be accepted.

The final QPC, filed on Tuesday after the judge's decision regarding UNADFI, concerned just this question of égalité des armes, having the same rights and opportunities as the prosecution and the plaintiffs. Scientology having settled with all the individual plaintiffs, the lawyers for the defendants had tried everything to get the trial either delayed or the previous judgment set aside. When that failed and the trial of the facts of the case looked like going ahead, they launched an attack on UNADFI, questioning its right to be there as plaintiffs. The decision of Judge Claudine Forkel to defer a ruling on the issue effectively meant that Olivier Morice, for UNADFI, would have been able to play exactly the same role that he had in the initial trial.

The defence argument appears to be that this means the dice are loaded against them in court and they cannot proceed under those conditions.

It took Judge Forkel less than five minutes to read out her ruling rejecting the final QPC and a defence lawyer made a brief statement saying they could not continue under such conditions and staged their mass walk-out. The judge immediately suspended the hearing. The lawyers for Scientology are preparing to release a statement that will set out their position in more detail.

Outside the court, Scientologist Eric Roux said there was no point in remaining when their most basic rights had been denied and every argument they put forward was rejected. Outside the court, Olivier Morice for UNADFI, described the walk-out as laughable. The defence team, he added, had, with their multiple QPCs, been pursuing a carefully thought-out but nevertheless suicidal strategy from the start of the trial.

http://forums.whyweprotest.net/thre...al-nov-3-dec-1-2011.88104/page-3#post-1959340

It may simply be that they are abandoning the trial on appeal to concentrate on pleadings at the Cour de Cassation to try to get the convictions overturned on legal grounds. Morice describes it as a suicidal strategy, even if it was clearly carefully planned: but it's not over until the last gavel has fallen. If they do decide to boycott the trial on appeal, the judge has announced that the trial goes ahead without them, but the sight of the empty defence benches has a fairly powerful symbolic value, which they will no doubt try to exploit. They will argue that it shows that proceedings have been stacked against them.

Or this may just be a piece of courtroom theatrics and they will return to the proceedings at a later date. Watch this space...

UPDATE: according to the latest report from Reuters, the issue is indeed that of UNADFI's role in the trial.

http://forums.whyweprotest.net/thre...al-nov-3-dec-1-2011.88104/page-4#post-1959400

Thursday's hearing resumed without the defendants and their lawyers and the court began looking at the facts of the case.

As things stand, since there appear to be no witnesses lined up and the defence will not be making its contribution, it looks as if the trial may well wind up by the end of next week instead of the first week of December, as originally scheduled.
 

mnql1

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Translation of a French article posted on Nov. 17, 2011 on the website of Le nouvel Observateur:
Une ancienne présidente de la Scientologie porte plainte pour vol
Former Scientology president filing theft complaint

November 17, 2011

PARIS (AP) - A former president of the French branch of the Church of Scientology intends to file a complaint against X for theft, the organization announced Thursday, explaining that this follows the disappearance of documents in the case currently being tried by the Paris court of appeal.

In a statement, the Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology - Celebrity Centre, says it is joining the complaint which is about to be formalized by a former president of the organization, Sabine Jacquart, a defendant at the trial.

"The Church has discovered that several documents, all of which concern the UNADFI's application as a plaintiff, have mysteriously vanished from the case file. This disappearance comes at a time when the legitimacy of recognizing the UNADFI as a plaintiff is being strongly challenged by the Church," said the organization, which is considered a cult in France.

The organization accuses the court of appeal of having refused to allow the defense to consult the case file to verify "the authenticity of the disputed documents, in violation of the basic rights of the defense." He is "surprised to discover that, in fact, many of these documents have simply disappeared from the case file."

In a letter to the Paris court of appeal, Sabine Jacquart emphasizes that this [sic] document is "essential regarding the ability and entitlement to act of a plaintiff that has been hounding me through its attorney." The defense has been seeking the rejection of the UNADFI (National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and the Individual), but the court decided to annex this matter to the substance of the case. This means that the court will rule on this question in its final decision.
 

Arthur Dent

Silver Meritorious Patron
Translation of a French article posted on Nov. 17, 2011 on the website of Le nouvel Observateur:
Une ancienne présidente de la Scientologie porte plainte pour vol

Perhaps someone in the Court of Appeals has located the Simon Bolivar reference and has word-cleared it and is applying it standardly....missing docs and all....

Of course the c of s would never do something like that. :coolwink:

Thanks for posting all the updates, mnql1. Much appreciated!
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Tony Ortega mentions the appeal trial inn his Village Voice blog today (Thursday, November 11, 2011):
Scientology Storms Out of Court in France, Getting Hammered in Florida: It's Time for Thursday Stats!

Story #2: How do you say 'crybabies' in French?

Back in 2008, Scientology was convicted of fraud in France, and only a legal technicality kept the church from being dismantled there. Now, the church is getting an appeal trial on the fraud conviction, and as we've mentioned earlier, it has brought its usual scorched-earth approach to the proceedings. But after managing to persuade nearly all of the original complainants against it to withdraw from the case, this week things suddenly started to go bad for Scientology, according to reports we're seeing from the excellent Jonny Jacobsen and French media that's being posted at Operation Clambake and WhyWeProtest.org.

In fact, Scientology got so huffy about a ruling that didn't go its way, earlier today, the church's attorneys (more than half a dozen of them) staged a mass walkout from the trial!

Can you say waaaaaaah?

Thursday's Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Coverage of Scientology's antics in France has been unsparing. The pieces we've seen have called out the church for all of its legal shenanigans. The longer this trial goes on, the bigger downstat it seems to be in that country.
 
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secretiveoldfag

Silver Meritorious Patron
In some places if you don't appear for a hearing, you automatically lose your case.

I wonder what happens in France?

Anyway I believe this retrial has mainly had the effect so far of reminding the French what BAD PEOPLE Scientologists are.

But they started it. Are they stupid or something? :duh:

Edited to say: if any of you are as old as me you may remember January 2008, and half a dozen protestors outside the CoS in Paris, and no-one paying much attention. Things have changed, boy, have they ever!
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Translation of a comment by Olivier Saumon, the attorney representing the National Council of the Order of Pharmacists, a plaintiff at both the first trial and the appeal trial, regarding the walk-out of Scientology's lawyers and defendants from the appeal trial on Nov. 17, 2011:
"In twenty years of practice, it's first time I've ever seen this. As a defense strategy, this is incomprehensible. Scientology's officials no doubt cannot endure hearing of the violence of the offenses with which they are charged."

Source: Les scientologues ne veulent rien entendre ("Scientologists unwilling to hear anything")
An article posted on Nov. 17, 2011 on the francetv.fr website points out that two other cases against Scientology are pending.

The first case concerns a private school, Institut Aubert de Vincennes, which is accused of having taught Scientology precepts while the parents of the pupils had no knowledge of this. A French article dated May 11, 2011 reported that the judicial investigation is nearing completion and that the prosecutor's office in Créteil recommended that four persons stand trial. This case began in 1998 and the school is now closed.

The second case is based on the complaint filed by ex-Scientologist Alain Stoffen and is still under investigation. A French article dated June 17, 2009 gives a brief timeline:
- Nov. 4, 1960: Alain Stoffen born in Etterbeek, Belgium.
- Oct. 1985: First Scientology "course".
- 1994: Met his wife.
- 1998: Birth of their son.
- 1999: Marriage ends in separation.
- 2001: Discovers his "ethics file" and how he was manipulated.
- 2002: Files a complaint.
- Sept. 2006: The investigating judge dismisses the case.
- May 2007: The appeal court invalidates the dismissal and the investigation is resumed.
 

mnql1

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Translation of a French article posted on Nov. 18, 2011 on the website of Le Figaro:
Comment la Scientologie a sapé son procès
How Scientology undermined its trial

By Angélique Négroni
November, 18, 2011

With a shower of procedural arguments and priority questions of constitutionality, lawyers for the accused Scientologists managed to delay the proceedings before walking out. In spite of this, the court is continuing its work.

The courtroom has become strangely calm since the departure of the defendants, who, with their lawyers, walked away from the court on Thursday. The Scientology appeal trial in Paris is bound to be remembered in legal history. Of all the cases in which people have gone to great lengths to scuttle and water down a trial, this one stands out as a model of its kind.

From a plethora of legal attacks to outright desertion, Scientology's lawyers exhausted every means at their disposal to undermine this appeal trial regarding a verdict that was considered historic. Along with a handful of defendants, Scientology's two principal entities in France - the Celebrity Centre and its SEL bookstore - were for the first time charged with organized fraud. They were convicted in 2009 and handed fines of 400,000 and 200,000 euros. Exceptional threats call for exceptional action, so the defense lawyers spared nothing at the appeal trial.

The first tactic was to hammer away on points of law by raising priority questions of constitutionality to delay the trial. Although the defense attorneys denied any intention to stall the hearings, invoking these priority questions of constitutionality plunged the court into endless legal debates and prevented the substance of the case from being addressed even once since the trial began on November 3.

Faced with the court's systematic refusal to delay the hearings, the defense decided to try another tactic: complete and total withdrawal. The defense simply dropped out.

There was nothing spontaneous about this decision, according to Olivier Morice, the lawyer representing the UNADFI, an anti-cult association that is one of the civil parties. In his opinion, this was all planned. "The defendants never wanted to address the accusations. They are fleeing from justice and from the questions that would have been put to them," he said. "We expected this walk-out," a judge commented behind the scenes at the courthouse. "The only question was when they would slam the door." They did it on Thursday, with a statement at the ready proclaiming the end of the fight and declaring that "the Church of Scientology will no longer grant legitimacy to distorted and unfair justice."

No more witnesses

If the plan was to wreck the trial, then it's a total success. The accusations can finally be addressed, but without any debate. Although no defendants are present, there is no physical victim left on the side of the civil parties either. Each in turn, the only two complainants withdrew from the case. One of them, as the chief prosecutor recalled on Friday, declined to be a civil party in 2007, "after a compensation agreement with Scientology". The other complainant also withdrew, in December 2010. Was this a deliberate strategy on the part of the Scientologists? Whatever the answer is, the situation has turned to their advantage: there is no one to take the stand and explain how Scientology members manipulate their prey to take their money. All that remains are the transcripts in the case file and the presiding judge is reduced to having to read them. This trial was supposed to end on December 1, but it will be over by the end of next week. In its own way, this trial is still historic.
 

mnql1

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Update posted on Nov. 22, 2011 by Jonny Jacobsen ("Albion") on WWP:

http://forums.whyweprotest.net/threads/france-scientology-appeal-trial-nov-3-dec-1-2011.88104/page-5#post-1965727

A few interesting developments at today's hearing and outside the court.

A few hundred Scientologists gathered opposite the Palais de Justice to denounce what they say is a heresy trial and and "justice sous influence" -- effectively that someone has influenced the court against them. Potentially more important however, is a point of form that Olivier Morice, for counter-cult group UNADFI brought. If it is borne out by the documents in the case, it could disqualify the appeal brought by one of the personnes morales, the Scientology organisations: in this case, l'Association Spirituelle de l'Eglise de la Scientologie CC (ASES), or the Celebrity Centre.

ASES was convicted at the original trial of organised fraud. Eric Roux, a leading Scientologist in France, appeared to speak for ASES at that trial -- he himself was not in anyway implicated in the offences being tried. In court today Morice, after hearing the appeal judge summarise the charges against ASES and how it had defended itself at the original trial, said he wanted to raise a point of form.

He reminded the court that earlier in the current proceedings, the defence lawyer had tried to get the court to throw out UNADFI's request to be granted the status of partie civile -- injured party or plaintiff -- at the trial. Among a number of objections raised, one was that UNADFI President Catherine Picard, had not been properly mandated to act in court as UNADFI's representative. That, said Morice, had prompted him to check the paperwork regarding Eric Roux's standing in the appeal trial.

He now suggested to the court that the relevant paperwork in which the appeal had been lodged had not been properly formulated: that it had been filed in Roux's name when he had no standing to represent ASES at the trial on appeal. So while Roux had been mandated to represent ASES at the original trial, it was not at all clear to Morice that he had been granted the same powers to do the same on appeal. If there was such a mandate in the files, he was not he had seen it, he said.

Morice made it clear that it was the reasoning of his colleagues on the defence side that had got him thinking along these lines. So after several days of procedural arguments brought by the defence, Morice now appears to have take a leaf out of their book.

Hugues Woirhaye, for the prosecution, seemed a little taken aback by this development, but agreed that if the application had not been made out in the required manner then that could indeed pose a serious problem.

The court will now look through the dossier to see if it can find the required document mandating Roux in the correct manner. If it is not there, then the appeal, for ASES at least, was not filed properly and so does not legally exist: that would mean the original judgement and conviction -- so far as ASES is concerned -- becomes definitive. ASES could not go to the supreme court (the Cour de Cassation) because they did not fulfil the procedural requirements at the appeal stage.

Earlier Tuesday, Catherine Picard, president of UNADFI gave evidence, as she had at the original trial. The main aim was to answer some of the procedural objections brought by the defence lawyers before their walk-out last week, of which more perhaps at a later date.

The court then continued to consider the evidence before, with the president of the court reading out key extracts from the previous trial, the defendants' interviews with investigators and key passages from the experts' reports. Olivier Saumon, for the National Council for the Order of Pharmacists, set out their case for the charges relating to the illegal practice of pharmacy.
 

mnql1

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Translation of a French article posted on Nov. 22, 2011 on the website of Le nouvel Observateur:

Procès de la scientologie: prévenus et parties civiles s'affrontent à distance

Scientology trial: defendants and plaintiffs fighting at a distance

November 22, 2011

The UNADFI, a plaintiff at the trial of the Church of Scientology, condemned Scientology's "sectarian methods" on Tuesday at the Paris court of appeal, while Scientologists held a protest outside the courthouse against what they label as a "heresy trial".

The trial for "organized fraud" against Scientology's two principal entities in France - the Celebrity Centre and its SEL bookstore - and five Scientologists opened on November 3.

After all the points of law that they raised to delay the hearings were rejected, the defendants and their lawyers walked out on November 17, calling the trial "unfair".

The hearings continued in their absence with only one witness, UNADFI president Catherine Picard, testifying on Tuesday morning.

Catherine Picard has been president of this counter-cult association since 2004, and she is a former member of the French parliament and co-author of the 2001 About-Picard law which defines the abuse of weakness as an offense. She told the court about "the crushing debt, the breaking of family ties" and, more generally, about the "state of subjection" that can result from the "sectarian methods" used by movements such as Scientology to indoctrinate "vulnerable persons".

"The greatest risk is that this concerns all of us, we can all be lured by offers that seem beneficial but are in fact disguises for moral or financial fraud," she warned.

She described the "three stages" used to establish "moral control" over a person: "seduction," "deconstruction of personality", and "reconstruction", where a person "is given the tools to become an actual proselytizer".

She spoke of a former follower who had filed a complaint in 1998 but eventually decided not to go to court. "A number of victims suffer harassment and pressure" from Scientology to make them desist, and they are offered a settlement that resembles a "buy-out", she said.

Although the UNADFI was ruled inadmissible as a plaintiff at the first trial in 2009, it succeeded, much to the discontent of the defendants, in remaining at the appeal trial, because the court deferred its decision on this issue until the end of the trial.

Though absent in court, the defendants and their lawyers responded indirectly through a demonstration against "unfair justice" staged outside the courthouse by the "the French committee of Scientologists against discrimination".

The participants (100 according to the police, 350 according to the organizers), wearing "indignant Scientologist" badges, gathered at mid-day, banging on drums, calling for "equal justice for Scientologists", and waving placards that read "no to a heresy trial".

"We are still fighting, in a different way," Celebrity Centre spokesman Eric Roux told the press.

He handed out a copy of a letter to Justice Minister Michel Mercier, dated November 21, in which he asks the minister to have the Inspector General of Judicial Services investigate the "disappearance" of documents in the file of the case presently before the court of appeal.

The trial is expected to end on Thursday, after the closing arguments of the plaintiffs and of the chief prosecutor.

Considered a religion in the United States and in some European countries, the movement founded in 1954 by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard was classified as a cult in France by a 1995 parliamentary report. It claims 12 million followers worldwide, 45,000 in France.
 
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Gadfly

Crusader
I like this model of how a cult works from the above article:

"Seduction," "deconstruction of personality", and "reconstruction", where a person "is given the tools to become an actual proselytizer".

A detailed examination of Scientology from that view would be interesting. Obvious similarities pop into my head immediately.
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Two photos of the Nov. 22, 2011 protest by Scientologists outside the Paris court of appeal:



The smaller signs say: "Biased trial: We won't take it any more", "Justice for Scientologists", "No to an unfair trial" and the large sign reads: "Scientology: No to a trial for heresy"

Source: http://desmond.yfrog.com/Himg864/scaled.php?tn=0&server=864&filename=heqht.jpg&xsize=640&ysize=640, via http://groups.google.com/group/fr.soc.sectes/browse_thread/thread/4f4550c37b4812cb#



Source: http://scientologuescontreladiscrimination<dot>com/2011/11/22/manifestation-des-scientologues-pour-denoncer-une-justice-inequitable/ (<dot> inserted because this is a Scientology website)
 

This is NOT OK !!!!

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Keep up the good work mnql1 !!!!

I'm following along day-by-day.

Seems the French justice system has more "confront" than the Americans.

Hope you keep posting through to the verdict!
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Translation of a French article posted on Nov. 24, 2011 on the website of Le nouvel observateur:
Une amende d'un million d'euros requise contre la branche française de la Scientologie
Prosecution requests one million euro fine against Scientology's French branch

November 24, 2011

PARIS (AP) On Thursday, the chief prosecutor asked the court of appeal to impose a fine of one million euros against the French branch of the Church of Scientology, which is on trial for "organized fraud" in Paris. A fine of 500,000 euros was requested for the SEL Scientology bookstore.

The decision will be announced on February 2, 2012 at 9 A.M.

At the first trial, the Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology was fined 400,000 euros and the bookstore 400,000 euros.

The chief prosecutor also requested suspended prison sentences ranging from 18 months to 2 years for 4 of the movement's officials, an increase in sanctions against 2 of them.

The defense walked out of the trial last week saying it no longer wished to grant legitimacy to proceedings it considers "biased and unfair".
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Translation of an excerpt from a French article posted on Nov. 24, 2011 on the ouest-france.fr website:
Amende de 1,5 million d’euros requise en appel contre la Scientologie parisienne
Chief prosecutor Hugues Woirhaye requested fines of "not less than" one million euros against the Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology and 500,000 euros against the SEL bookstore. The first trial resulted in lighter fines of 400,000 and 200,000 euros, respectively.

Mr. Woirhaye also requested, "to set an example", an increase in the sentences handed down in 2009 against three Scientologists. For Sabine Jacquart, a former president of the Celebrity Centre, he requested a 2-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of "not less than 20,000 euros", for the "guidance counsellor" Jean-François Valli: a 2-year suspended prison sentence and a 15,000 euro fine, and for Aline Fabre, considered the director of the "purification cures": a fine of 4,000 euros.

Mr. Woirhaye asked for confirmation of the penalties handed to Alain Rosenberg, who is considered the "de facto head" of Scientology in Paris (a 2-year suspended sentence and a 30,000 euro fine), and to Didier Michaux (an 18-month suspended sentence and a 20,000 euro fine). Due to the absence of the defendants and their attorneys, who walked out on November 17 calling the trial "unfair", there were no closing arguments from the defense.
 
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