Scientology has been in the cross-hairs of scrutiny ever since Tom Cruise showed us its not so pleasant side by example.
Belgium federal prosecutors are going after the notorious church for what is considered criminal.
After years of legal battles, federal prosecutors in Belgium now believe their investigation is thorough enough to charge the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization. The church faces charges of extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal medical practice, states Yahoo News.
According to a report from Flanders News:
“The decision follows years of investigation that was triggered by a complaint by the Labour Mediation Service in the Brussels Region. Labour mediators were unhappy with a number of labour contracts. The matter ended up on the desk of examining magistrate Michel Claise, who ordered raids on Church of Scientology premises in 2008. During the raids police managed to seize a wealth of evidence.”
Belgian newspapers De Tijd and L’Echo both report that the Belgian federal attorney now seeks prosecution. Being called a cult is not enough to enable a criminal investigation, says the Atlantic Wire, but being accused of an existence as a criminal organization is definitely enough.
This is a new twist, as most of the group’s numerous court battles over the years have focused on establishing its religious legitimacy. Scientology’s well-funded legal team won very expensive cases against Time in 1991 and the Cult Awareness Network in 1996, but the Belgian authorities fought Scientologists since 2007, when the country attempted labeling the group with cult status in a move that even drew rebuttal from the US State Department.
The Church of Scientologys European headquarters is in Brussels, so a ban in Belgium could cripple the church.
Neither the federal prosecution nor the Church of Scientology have mentioned official details since word of the impending charges surfaced early Friday.