Spain - Sects - Judiciary
15 Scientologists cleared of charges
Decision: Accusation of forming criminal association not proven.
December 3, 2001
Madrid (APA/dpa) - In the first big trial against adherents of the Scientology organization in Spain, the 15 defendants were let go. The court decided on Monday in Madrid that it had not been proven that the defendants had formed a criminal association. As to the the other specifications - such as the accusations of brainwashing or tax evasion, it was said there was no proof. The state attorney had demanded from three months to five years for the defendants, as well as the dissolution of the organization.
The letter of indictment had described Scientology as an "extremely dangerous organization" that was "more of a sect than a church." Nevertheless, the court decided there was no evidence that the defendants had joined together for the purpose of committing criminal acts. The state attorney's office had originally wanted the organization's boss, Heber Jentzsch, to appear in court, and had asked 56 years for him. The American did not however show up in court because the US authorities had not forwarded the summons to him.
Comment from Arnie Lerma
Just to put this "big win' into perspective, the last information I got from Spain was a telephone call from the last complainant who was left in that case.... John Caban... who was lamenting that all the previous criminal complainants (those who had been wronged..), which included one by Pedro Lerma whose civil lawsuit -- and it was the cult's efforts to crush that civil litigation that grew into the "Spanish criminal indictment" -- had been harassed incessantly and then "bought off" by Scientology to "settle" the matter. Having no complainants left to testify, all the prosecutor was left with was "illicit association" - and not one of the original complainants - to testify. And all this in a country for which $1 US = 172 Spanish pesetas. Scientology's money goes a long way in Spain.
Trial against Scientology adherents opens in Spain
February 6, 2001
Madrid (dpa) - The first major trial against 17 members and adherents of the Scientology organization began on Tuesday in Spain. The chief of the organization, Heber Jentzsch, for whom the state attorney's office was demanding 56 years in prison, was supposed to be among the accused. From a source in the legal circles though, the American did not appear before the court because the authorities in the USA did not forward the summons from the Spanish court.
The state attorney's office applied to have the trial postponed. The defense refused the application. It was pointed out that the Spanish court had had many years to properly summon Jentzsch.
The accused have been charged with an illegal association, deprivation of liberty, tax evasion and other crimes. According to Spanish press reports, Scientology is described in the indictment as an "extremely dangerous organization" which resembles a "sect" more than it does a church.
dpa hk xx rd
Proceedings against Scientology in Madrid postponed
May 25, 1999
Madrid (epd) Court proceedings against the Scientology organization in Madrid which had been scheduled for June 1 have been postponed. The lawyer representing the 18 accused has himself accused the judge of the 4th chamber of the Madrid court with prejudice, reported the Spanish daily newspaper "El Pais" on Tuesday. Until the highest court in Madrid decides upon this application by the defense, the proceedings are postponed.
The process against the leading Scientology members, Scientology President Heber Jentzsch among them, is supposed to last for three months. The state attorney made a total of twelve charges against the accused of violation of Spanish criminal and civil law. Among these charges are the psychical treatment and medical diagnosing with a "personality test" without medical education. People with mild depression suffer personality upsets after this "treatment," according to the state attorney.
by Hugo Stamm, Zurich
After years of investigation, the Madrid state attorney's office has held out for a strike against Scientology. The office has charged 18 leading members of the pseudo-church, reported the Spanish daily newspaper, "El Pais." 30 years in prison was demanded for Heber Jentzsch, the international President of the organization.
The indictment described Scientology as extremely dangerous. The members are said to be financially exploited and subjected to brainwashing. The twelve charges range from tax evasion to the formation of an illegal organization. The Scientologists promise cures without possessing the proper education or permits.
The District Attorney even rates using the personality test for the recruitment of new customers as criminal. This uses the 200 questions which the Scientologists also use in Switzerland in order to attract new members. The person being tested is then told that he has (fictitious) psychic problems, which can be corrected with expensive courses and therapies, stated the District Attorney. The reality is that many people tested become psychically ill only after having taken the "therapy." The charges state that a diabetic was talked into believing that his illness was caused by psychic illness, and that it could be healed with Scientology courses. The patient later fell into a diabetic coma.
The charges also include the Scientology co-organization of Narconon, which offers controversial therapy for drug addicts. This therapy includes daily sessions of up to five hours in the sauna and mega-doses of medications. The Scientology therapy center lacks any professional medical or psychological care, said the District Attorney. In addition, disobedient Scientologists were said to be locked up for days at a time. The legal proceedings are to begin June 1 and last several months.
The Swiss Scientology spokesman, Juerg Stettler, did not want to take a position on the charges in Spain. Stettler said it was just another campaign of non-stop accusations which lacked any basis.
Major Proceedings against Scientology
From: "Hannoversche Allgemeine"
February 6, 1999
According to press reports, major proceedings will, for the first time, be brought against the controversial Scientology organization. The "El Pais" newspaper reported, on Saturday, that starting June 1, proceedings against 18 leading members and adherents of the organization will be initiated before a court in Madrid. Included among those members is Heber Jentzsch, the Scientology President from the USA, for whom the state attorney's office is asking 30 years in prison.
In the indictment, Scientology is described as an "extremely dangerous organization" which more resembles "a sect" than a church. The state attorney posted a total of twelve charges to the accounts of the accused. Among the charges are tax evasion and formation of an illegal association.
Adherents of the organization are alleged to have been financially exploited and subjected to "brainwashing." Also stated was that in the treatment of drug addicts, Scientology had applied methods which are detrimental to health and which have no scientific basis.
In the course of earlier investigations by the Spanish justice department, Jentzsch, who lives in the USA, had already been temporarily taken into custody with 36 other Scientology members in 1988, according to the report. At the time, the organization had been holding a meeting in a Madrid hotel.
dpa , Madrid
Spain: trial against Scientology begins February 6, 2001. Here's the original article on the arrests:
Scientology Sect in Spain
Boss arrested, Branch shut down
AGPF Aktuell IV/88 of 30 Dec. 1988 page 2
On November 20, 1988, 71 leading Scientologists were temporarily taken into custody in Spain. 28 of those were jailed pending investigation, among them Heber Jentzsch, 53, who lists himself as Hubbard's heir and even assumed the title which Hubbard bestowed upon himself, "Commodore." There is doubt, however, about the validity of the signature on the certificate by which Hubbard is said to have made Jentzsch his successor.
The sect bosses have been accused of a number of crimes: fraud, embezzlement, counterfeiting documents, deprivation of liberty, coercion, tax evasion and contravention of foreign exchange law. 27 branches were closed down by court order in Spain and searched, including "Narconon" branches.
Magistrate Vazquez said, "We are dealing with a multi-national business established to make money. The only god in this religion is money."
Jentzsch presented himself as the victim of the "new Spanish Inquisition." The German Scientology center has accused the judge of things including "deliberate false information." Edith Bucheller (or Buchele), an American woman who was also incarcerated stressed, "Whoever brought this police operation upon us will be investigated and punished." An NRZ correspondent stated, "Even in jail the sect leaders felt no threat. Before her arrest, Edith Bucheller explicitly stated that Scientology always kept the law of the host land. She said that those who attacked Scientology were representing the interests of those "who earn a lot of money with drugs."
Two police agents had infiltrated the sect for nine months and so seizures were tightly coordinated: several hundred kilograms of documents. They will allegedly serve as evidence that profits of over one million DM were transferred to the USA in 1986 alone. That is forbidden for a charitable association. In the meantime charges are being filed in Madrid from all over Spain.
The International Court condemns the USA
June 27, 2001
The Hague - The International Court in the Hague decided in favor of a German complaint against the USA in almost all points. It did that in regard to the refusal of consular assistance for the brothers Karl and Walter LaGrand, who were executed in 1999 in the U.S. State of Arizona.
The court emphasized that in this case the USA had committed a violation of the Viennese Convention, and a legal violation against the Federal Republic of Germany as well as against the brothers.
The execution was mentioned in connection with Scientology at: ga.htm#990304b
The Arrogant Friend LaGrand execution brings protests in Germany
Only a miracle can help the brothers
Scientology intends to sue Belgian state
Scientology sues over use of 'cult'
November 29, 2001
Brussels (APA/Reuters) - The Scientology sect says it intends to sue the state of Belgium because of a parliamentary report that categorizes the organization as a sect. Scientology, which has about 2,000 members in Belgium, said it filed suit in a Belgium court and demanded a symbolic sum of one Euro in damages. The categorization by the 1997 parliamentary report is a violation of the European Human Rights Convention, said Martin Weightman, who heads Scientology's human rights efforts in Europe. The first hearing is supposed to take place December 13. The Belgian government had no initial statement.
In the report a parliamentary commission described Scientology and 188 other organizations as quasi-religious. The commission was established after 16 adherents of the Order of the Solar Temple died in France in December 1995. Parliament's report had been repeatedly used to kindle intolerance and discrimination against Scientologists, said Weightman. "The report ... poisons the community."
Two years ago, the Scientology Church also filed complaints with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for alleged discrimination against religious minorities, said Weightman. He said the complaints are still be reviewed.
Hungarian put pressure on Scientology
September 13, 1999
A Hungarian tried for months to extort money from the Scientology Organization with a pornographic web site. A Budapest district court has now given the 23 year old one year probation for his action, reported the "Magyar Nemzet," a Hungarian daily newspaper. The Hungarian had written several e-mails to the Scientology Center in Los Angeles, in which he demanded first $25,000, then $30,000 to take down the web site. His fate was sealed by the fact that he had given them his bank account number Therefore the police could quickly find out who he was.
The extortionist had established a web page on the internet under the address of www.dianetika.com on which he had been publishing pornographic photographs of Hungarian beauties since November 1998. The address and layout was selected so that the page could have easily and mistakenly be taken for one of the Scientology organization. The main work of the organization's founder, Ron Hubbard, and the controversial teachings contained therein are called "Dianetik."
Former Scientologists demand refund
August 28, 2001
There is much at stake for the Scientology Church Denmark in a fundamental court process initiated by three former members in the Copenhagen municipal court.
The three women want all the money back they applied to Scientology courses during their years of membership. Altogether it adds up to more than half a million Kroner. But more than that is at stake for the Scientology Church. If they lose the proceedings, there presumably be others who demand refund of greater amounts.
According to the lawyer for the complainants, they have justification to get their money back in that they were subjected to extreme measures of persuasion by which their free will was more or less taken from them.
"It is upsetting when you see how they conduct themselves. If you don't want to continue with the courses, they systematically put you under pressure until you give in and sign up for the next course. The Scientology Church is a commercial enterprise, and an essential part of that consists of financially exploiting people."
"They were really hard pressed," said Carlo Siebert, who made a reference to a corresponding court process in Norway, which was won by the complainant.
The three women already had received money from the Scientology Church. When they left the organization, they demanded their money back for the last course they had taken, and they received it. According to the internal rules of the Scientology Church, everybody can get their money back for a course as long as they apply for refund within three months.
The Scientology Church regards the court proceeding as an expression of pure, unadulterated greed. "Their only goal is to get money, and in their zeal to get it, they are ready to go so far that they are ready to have themselves described as being incapable of handling their own affairs. The circumstance alone, that they are prepared to initiate this court process, does demonstrate that they are entirely in a position to make their own decisions," said the information chief of the Scientology Church, Anette Refstrup.
When the three complainants received a refund for their last course, they simultaneously signed a statement that they were not entitled to receive any more money back. In order to win their case, it is necessary for them to have this statement declared invalid.
The introductory maneuvers of the court proceedings revolve around these statements to a high degree. Carlo Siebert does not believe that they can be judged separate from each other, but that they would have to be evaluated in the light of the whole matter, at the same time the attorney for the Scientology Church, Carsten Brink, believes that the statements would be of decisive importance.
"It is rather peculiar. First they sign saying they no longer have a claim, and then they come back and want more money. Legally that is a very simple case, and taken only from a legal standpoint, there is no doubt as to the outcome of the court proceedings," he said.
The courses of the Scientology Church have to do with intellectual and spiritual development. When one goes the whole way, then one finally becomes "clear," but that is an infinitely long process, Carlo Siebert believes. The whole time people are given the impression that everything will be all right if they only take the very next course, but, naturally, that is not the case, and the courses get more and more expensive. It is almost impossible to get out of it because the Scientology Church constructs a dependency, which it then exploits, said Carlo Siebert; he wants to use a psychoanalyst in the trial who has experience with the psychological influence the cult uses on its members.
"I intend to employ him to reveal the methods which people are subject to in the Scientology Church," said Siebert.
Because of the complex introductory discussions between the opposing parties, he does not anticipate that the trial could be scheduled before January 1, 2002.
Translation from Danish to German: F. Griess