Church of Scientology Sent to Trial in France

Source: Reuters
Date: April 3, 2001

Paris - A French magistrate has ordered the Paris division of the Church of Scientology to stand trial on charges of attempted extortion and invasion of privacy, judicial sources said on Tuesday.

Investigating magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke also notified Marc Walter, a leader of Scientology in the Paris region, that he would face trial on the same charges, in addition to false advertising. However, Van Ruymbeke dropped charges against Martine Brochard, another Scientologist.

The suit was filed by three former Scientologists who accused the church of using their names and addresses on its listings after they had left the movement.

Court documents said two of the three plaintiffs had been bombarded with publicity material seeking money under false pretences. Walter's lawyer Mourad Oussedik rejected the charges.

"There was never any false advertising or attempt at extortion. It's manipulation,'' he told Reuters.

French authorities view the Church of Scientology with suspicion and do not recognize it as a religion. Members have complained of harassment and persecution. A date for the trial was not immediately set.

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