France's highest court upholds Scientology's fraud conviction

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Translation of a French article posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 on the BFMTV website:
Escroquerie: la scientologie définitivement condamnée en France
Fraud: Scientology's conviction ruled final in France

by A.G. and AFP
October 16, 2013

The Court of Cassation today rejected the Church of Scientology's appeal regarding the "organized fraud" conviction of its two main legal entities in France.

At the hearing held on September 4, the lawyers representing Scientology, which is classified as a cult by several parliamentary reports in France but considered a religion in the United States and in some European countries, used various tactics in their attempt to quash the February 2, 2012 verdict of the Paris court of appeal.

This decision reaffirms the conviction of Scientology's two Parisian entities, the Celebrity Centre and the SEL bookstore, and their respective fines of 200,000 and 400,000 euros. Five Scientologists were convicted on charges of abusing the vulnerability of former members to extract large sums of money.
 
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Free to shine

Shiny & Free
From Tony:

http://tonyortega.org/2013/10/16/scientologys-fraud-conviction-upheld-by-frances-highest-court/


France’s top court on Wednesday confirmed the conviction of Scientology for organised fraud, according to French media reports.

The ruling, by the Cour de Cassation, effectively ends the legal battle in France, making the convictions definitive, RFI radio and BFMTV reported.

Even before the judgment was handed down, the movement’s lawyers had said that they would take the fight to the European Court of Human Rights if it went against them.
 

AnonyMary

Formerly Fooled - Finally Free
It's so nice to see the truth reign!! Thank you to the members of the Cour de Cassation!!!!
 
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JBWriter

Happy Sapien
Very good news. For France. And for Scientology's lawyers. :)

Louis Bore, the French attorney for 'scientologie' just got a text, "YSCOTCE" and he cannot figure out what it means.

JB

*You Suck Croissants On The Champs-Elysee "
 

Student of Trinity

Silver Meritorious Patron
Ha.

The Church will undoubtedly appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. But I'd be surprised if that had any chance. The Cour de Cassation is France's highest court, above even the court of appeal that was above the original criminal court. If the judgement has stood up this far in France, it must be pretty clear under French law, and I can't believe that French law is going to be so out of line with EU law. The European Union is very liberal in lots of ways, but European concepts of 'liberal' don't always align with American ones. On the one hand there are several European countries in which some churches do have special legal status. Nobody is forced to support any religion with their taxes, but in some countries there are some religious denominations whose members can support their churches by paying extra tax, so that the government effectively holds the collection plate for those religious bodies. And on the other hand most European countries also have a strong secular or even anti-clerical tradition, that expects the state to play a role in keeping religions or ideologies in genereal from causing too much trouble. The idea that the state can't touch religion at all is not the bedrock principle in Europe that it is in the US. So if the Cour de Cassation has upheld a conviction for fraud, I don't see how the religion card is going to play very well before any EU court.
 

Udarnik

Gold Meritorious Patron
Ha.

The Church will undoubtedly appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. But I'd be surprised if that had any chance. The Cour de Cassation is France's highest court, above even the court of appeal that was above the original criminal court. If the judgement has stood up this far in France, it must be pretty clear under French law, and I can't believe that French law is going to be so out of line with EU law. The European Union is very liberal in lots of ways, but European concepts of 'liberal' don't always align with American ones. On the one hand there are several European countries in which some churches do have special legal status. Nobody is forced to support any religion with their taxes, but in some countries there are some religious denominations whose members can support their churches by paying extra tax, so that the government effectively holds the collection plate for those religious bodies. And on the other hand most European countries also have a strong secular or even anti-clerical tradition, that expects the state to play a role in keeping religions or ideologies in genereal from causing too much trouble. The idea that the state can't touch religion at all is not the bedrock principle in Europe that it is in the US. So if the Cour de Cassation has upheld a conviction for fraud, I don't see how the religion card is going to play very well before any EU court.

Not forced in the general sense. But in the specific, believers ARE forced to pay the tax. If one wants to be married / buried in the Catholic Church in Austria, one must declare one's religious status on the tax form. It's a legalized form of extortion for performing the sacraments that was instituted under the Third Reich. They claim the tax is to keep the Church independent of politics, but I don't see how living off the public largesse accomplishes that.
 
what I want to know is what are the legal ramifications of the decision and how will it effect how Scientology operates in France? Will Scientology be considered a business, will it be taxed like one? Will this force Scientology to operate differently, such as not use the OCA's as a selling point? Mimsey
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
The Court of Cassation did however reverse the decision to compensate one of the plaintiffs who withdrew from the case.

Member of Parliament and former president of Miviludes Georges Fenech praised the Court of Cassation's decision: "Far from being a violation of freedom of religion, as this American-based organization contends, this decision raises the veil on unlawful practices that are seriously detrimental to the security of persons and property."

Source: France-La Scientologie définitivement condamnée pour escroquerie
 

AnonyMary

Formerly Fooled - Finally Free
The Court of Cassation did however reverse the decision to compensate one of the plaintiffs who withdrew from the case.

Member of Parliament and former president of Miviludes Georges Fenech praised the Court of Cassation's decision: "Far from being a violation of freedom of religion, as this American-based organization contends, this decision raises the veil on unlawful practices that are seriously detrimental to the security of persons and property."

Source: France-La Scientologie définitivement condamnée pour escroquerie

Too bad for that plaintiff and her/his attorneys.

Love that statement by Fenech!

Thanks for the update :thumbsup:
 

BardoThodol

Silver Meritorious Patron
This quote from Tony's blog spotlights how unfair this decision is:

In court and in the judgment itself, Judge Sophie-Hélène Château dismissed as “beyond fanciful” (
plus que fantaisiste) attempts by the defendants to translate the English phrase “hard sell” as “taking care of people”.

Religious freedom involves the right to define "God" as we choose.

In Scientology, we are all Gods, we are the creators of all we perceive. God is Operating Thetan.

Only by becoming completely bankrupt can one attain the highest levels in Scientology. Why is becoming bankrupt necessary? Because, using the concept of infinity (another aspect of God--also 8-8008*) Scientologists believe "it will be handled on the next level." As long as you have any money, you haven't reached the "next level."

Godhood is therefore synonymous with bankrupt.

Which must not be confused with those very few who are bankrupt prematurely and become disgruntled apostates.

*8-8008 is the concept of reducing the infinity of the physical universe to zero while increasing the zero of the spiritual world to infinity. Using this concept, one completely divorces oneself from reality and moves into the fantaisiste
universe where whatever you think is reality, and however you choose to define a word is the correct definition.
 

TG1

Angelic Poster
I do realize that French law does not govern Florida legal matters, but this has to be encouraging for the Garcias and their lawyers, if only philosophically.
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Translation of a French article posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 on the website of the weekly newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur:
Condamnation définitive de l'Eglise de scientologie: "valeur pédagogique" pour Fenech
Georges Fenech sees "educational value" in the final confirmation of the Church of Scientology's fraud conviction

AFP, October 16, 2013

The chairman of France's parliamentary study group on cults, Georges Fenech, hailed the definitive conviction of the Church of Scientology for fraud and stressed the "educational value" of this decision for future potential cult recruits.

In a statement released today, he writes: "Far from being a violation of freedom of religion, as this American-based organization contends, this decision raises the veil on unlawful practices that are seriously detrimental to the security of persons and property."

"This decision also has educational value for any person who may in the future be tempted by the false promises of this organization which has already been convicted many times by courts in France," adds the former president of Miviludes, the Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Sectarian Abuses.

"If the Church of Scientology were to be convicted one more time, it risks being purely and simply dissolved, the sentence recommended by the Paris prosecutor in the initial trial," he adds.

The Court of Cassation today rejected the Church of Scientology's appeal regarding its conviction for "organized fraud," thus rendering the decision final in France, even though the organization will file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.
 
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Student of Trinity

Silver Meritorious Patron
Not forced in the general sense. But in the specific, believers ARE forced to pay the tax. If one wants to be married / buried in the Catholic Church in Austria, one must declare one's religious status on the tax form. It's a legalized form of extortion for performing the sacraments that was instituted under the Third Reich. They claim the tax is to keep the Church independent of politics, but I don't see how living off the public largesse accomplishes that.

Believers may in a sense be forced to pay the tax — but not forced by the state, since the state will always just let you opt out of Catholicism if you want. If it's really as you say it is in Austria, then I find that grotesque and weird; but frankly Austria does a lot of weird things. When I lived there, years ago, I remember getting in trouble at some point for never having acquired some funny little residency form. Filling out and submitting these forms turned out to be a real legal obligation, but you had to buy them from tobacconists. There was no other source for them; that was the official channel, to buy them from the little privately-owned shops that sold cigarettes and lottery tickets. That system is probably still in place. Just recently I found out (the hard way, again) that in order to drive on Austrian highways you have to buy a windshield sticker from any gas station just outside the Austrian border.

Something in the DNA of Austrian bureaucracy must just be unique, and make it home in on solutions that would be considered utterly bizarre anywhere else in the world. Franz Kafka was not an accident.
 

TG1

Angelic Poster
I know I get all heady when decisions like this come down and imagine this is the beginning of something worse for the cult.

However, "organized fraud" is a crime that seems quite RICO'ish. I've always thought that the biggest blow the US federal government could wield against the CoS would be to bring RICO charges against them. And, of course, that won't happen without a lot of FBI and other DOJ efforts to do so. Given everything on their plates in a post-9/11 world, that's a real stretch.

Nonetheless, this French decision is some strong encouragement for other countries to bring such charges and issue such judgments. Therefore, this is a very important legal matter for us to follow and, today, to celebrate.

So hip, hip hooray!

:party:

And to Albion, who's covering this matter for Tony O, please come on over here and give us your take on this victory when you have time.

TG1
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
A brief AFP news video in English on YouTube:
[video=youtube;C9qNlaivpYk]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9qNlaivpYk[/video]
 

mnql1

Patron Meritorious
A brief AP news video in English on YouTube (EDIT: from Oct. 2009):
[video=youtube;_9lHmFpICb8]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9lHmFpICb8[/video]
 
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