Photo (85K) of arrest
Former French Scientology leader jailed
PARIS, Nov. 22 (UPI) - A court Friday sentenced the former head of
the Church of Scientology in France to 18 months in prison
for his role in the suicide of a member of the church.
The court in the southern city of Lyon also handed Jean-Jacques
Mazier a further 18-month suspended sentence and fined him 500,000
francs ($100,000) after convicting him on charges of second degree
murder and fraud.
The sentence was more severe than that sought by prosecutors, who had
demanded a three-year suspended sentence and a 500,000 francs ($100,000) fine.
Fifteen other church members received suspended prison terms of eight
months to two years for being accessories to fraud. But the court
dropped charges against another eight members, including the church's
spokeswoman, Daniele Gounord, and Jean-Paul Chapellet, the former head
of the church's security section.
The case centered on the suicide of church member Patric Vic, 31, who
jumped out of a window in Lyon in March, 1988, a day after Mazier
allegedly visited him to request 30,000 francs ($6,000) for a
In handing down the sentences, the court said ``freedom of religion..
.has its limits in the interests of public order.
``Individuals who use a lawful philosophical or religious doctrine to
deceive others for financial or commercial gain are liable to be
prosecuted for fraud.''
During the week-long trial, which began Sept. 30, prosecutors accused
the Church of Scientology of ``brainwashing'' its members. Defense
lawyers had sought to portray the trial as an ``inquisition'' and the
church members as ``victims of intolerance.''
French authorities have been seeking to crack down on religious cults
following the deaths in France in December of 16 members of a Swiss-
based sect, the Order of the Solar Temple.
Copyright 1996 Reuters, Limited
Reuters World Service
November 22, 1996, Friday, BC cycle -09:26 Eastern Time
LENGTH: 61 words
HEADLINE: Former head of French Church of Scientology guilty
DATELINE: LYON, France, Nov 22
A court on Friday convicted Jean-Jacques Mazier, former
head of the French Church of Scientology, of manslaughter
and sentenced him to 18 months in prison with another 18 months suspended.
After an eight-day trial in October, the court convicted 14 other
defendants tied to the church on charges ranging from
embezzlement to fraud and acquitted eight others.
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