The Irish Times reports from France, where the inheritors of L Ron Hubbard’s greedy and manipulative anti-science cult of scientology have lost their appeal against a 2009 ruling that “two French branches of the US-based organisation were guilty of “organised fraud” and gave four of its leaders suspended jail sentences of up to two years.” A Huffington Post report notes
During the appeals process, the prosecution had asked for the church to be fined at least euro1 million ($1.3 million) and its bookstore euro500,000. But the appeals court on Thursday instead ordered the same fines as the trial court, euro400,000 ($530,000) for the church and euro200,000 for its bookstore.
Five members of the church who were convicted in the first trial were ordered to pay fines ranging from euro10,000 to euro30,000. Four of them were also given suspended sentences between 18 months and two years.
In the original trial, prosecutors had tried to get the group disbanded in France, but the court declined even to take the lesser step of shutting down its operations, saying that French Scientologists would have continued their activities anyway.
As the Huffington Post report adds
Karin Pouw, a spokeswoman for the church in Los Angeles, denounced Thursday’s decision, calling it a “miscarriage of justice.”
She said the group would appeal the decision to the Court of Cassation and plans to bring a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. Another complaint is pending with a U.N. special rapporteur.