French prosecutors urge court to shut down Scientologists
Prosecutors urged a court to shut down the Church of Scientology and punish its leaders for using "fraudulent" tactics to woo new followers.Paris – French prosecutors urged a court on Monday to shut down the Church of Scientology in France and punish its leaders for using "fraudulent" tactics to woo new followers.
Prosecutors Maud Morel-Coujard and Nicolas Baieto called on the court to dismantle the movement's French structures, the Scientology Celebrity Centre and an associated bookshop in Paris, and fine them each EUR two million (USD 2.75 million).
They also demanded a four-year suspended jail sentence and EUR 150,000 fine against the French centre's founder, Alain Rosenberg, and asked the court to deprive him of civic and civil rights for five years.
The prosecutors further asked for suspended jail sentences of up to three years and fines of up to EUR 50,000 against five other top French Scientology officials.
"A whole series of fraudulent maneuvers were used in the search for new followers," Morel-Coujard told the court.
Known for its Hollywood celebrity followers Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology is in the dock in Paris for the second time in six years, although French courts have prosecuted several individual Scientologists since 1978.
The group's French branch has rejected the accusations, insisting that Scientology was a legitimate religion whose members faced persecution.
France officially considers Scientology to be a sect.
The defence will plead its case on Tuesday and Wednesday and the court will issue a verdict in several weeks' time.
AFP / Expatica