Paris Branch Of Scientology Church Fined

For Keeping Computer Data on Former Followers

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PARIS, MAY 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).-A Paris correctional court ordered the Parisian branch of the Scientology Church, known as Asesif, to pay an 8,000 Euro fine last Friday.



The Church, regarded by many as a "sect" or "destructive group," was found guilty of keeping data on former supporters. These former members complained that they were harassed between 1998 and 2000 with repeated Scientology mail, in which the group tried to sell its "teaching" with promises of result.

The court also accused the Church of setting up "obstacles to the National Computer and Liberties Commission."

This is the first sentence of French justice against a derivative of the Scientology Church as a moral entity in law.

Marc Walter, president of Asesif, was fined 2,000 Euros. The court acquitted the other accusations, including attempted fraud and deceitful advertising.

The sentence of the correctional court was far less exacting than the Attorney Ministry´s appeal, evoking the dissolution of Asesif, though not demanding it explicitly.

Attorney Christine Forey requested a 300,000 Euro fine against Asesif, and a 12-month conditional prison sentence and a 12,000 Euro fine against Marc Walter. She described it as "a system to obtain ever greater funds for deceptive and fanciful results."

"I mistrust a religion that is not that of the poor and simple," she added, recalling "Asesif´s essentially commercial end."

Despite the minimal sentence, lawyers for the civil parties expressed satisfaction.

"It is an important decision, which opens the way to other prosecutions," said Mrs. Olivier Morice, adviser of the National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and the Individual (Unadfi), one of the civil parties. This association expressed its determination to continue the struggle.

"The dissolution might be ultimately determined when the sentences are complied with. Unadfi will take Scientology to other courts," the lawyer said, adding that " the symbolic extent" of this decision "must not be underrated."