The highest court in the French judiciary affirmed fraud convictions for the Church of Scientology Wednesday. In doing so, it upheld thousand of euros in fines the Church of Scientology had been assessed.
The Cour de Cassation, France’s top appellate court, rebuffed the Church’s request to vacate its 2009 conviction for organized fraud. Scientology lawyers made the case that the church was protected by laws governing religious freedom.
George Fenech, member of the French Parliament, applauded the court’s verdict on the Church of Scientology.
“Far from being a violation of freedom of religion, as this American organization contends, this decision lifts the veil on the illegal and highly detrimental practices,” said Fenech.
Fenech’s interest in the Church of Scientology is easy to ascertain: he was appointed President of the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France in 2006.
“France is really the most backwards country in Europe in terms of religious tolerance,” French Scientology minister Eric Roux told the The Local.
The original Scientology charges alleged that the Church, its Parisian bookstore and Celebrity Center pressured people for large sums of money. The conviction entailed a 400,000 euro fine on the Celebrity Center, 200,000 euros on the bookstore and 30,000 euros on five Church of Scientology officials.
Roux points out that anyone to whom the Church of Scientology returned the money had dropped their claims against the Church.
“That’s how I know this is about our religious beliefs and not about a criminal case.”
The Church of Scientology is expected to appeal to international tribunals.
What do you think of the Church of Scientology? Do you think the ruling against the Church of Scientology was fair? Is the Church of Scientology being denied freedom of worship?