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Scientology Leaders Convicted of Fraud

March 17, 1978

PARIS - The Paris Tribunal has found four leaders of the Church of Scientology, including the American Founder, guilty of making fraudulent claims that physical cures and professional success can be achieved through Scientology.

The hour-long verdict, read Feb. 14, was the result of a seven-year public inquiry and a lengthy trial last November. Ron Lafayette Hubbard, the American founder of the sect, was condemned to four years imprisonment and a fine of 35,000 francs (a little over $7000).

Harry Laarhuis, Dutch former executive director of the French branch of the organization, was condemned to three years and a fine of 15,000 francs.

Mrs. Jacquelline Valentin, French former head of the church in France, was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 10,000 francs.

Georges Andreu, husband of the actual head of the French Church of Scientology, was given a suspended one-year prison sentence and a fine of 3,000 francs.

Andreu was the only accused to appear in person during the trial. The other three, who are "somewhere abroad," were condemned in absentia (a practice permitted by French law), and the judge published a warrant for their arrest.

Andreu stated afterwards that he will appeal the decision, which he denounced as "a violation of the letter and the spirit of both French law and the European convention of human rights." During his speech, the presiding judge of the tribunal stressed the fact that "the present lawsuit only concerns the commercial activities of the French Association of Scientology, and that the court was not interested in judging whether Scientology is a religion or not."

After giving a definition of fraud - recourse to fraudulent activities to raise false hopes in order to procure sums of money - the judge concluded that the facts and statements by the witnesses were "ample proof" of the veracity of the charge.

The French organization, he said, made false promises regarding professional success and the cure of psychosomatic illnesses, with the sole aim of "increasing the financial revenue," to use Hubbard's own words.

The case for the defense had been entirely based on the religious nature claimed by the movement, but the court refused to examine this aspect of the question.

The court examined evidence of large profits made by an organization which declares itself to be non-profit, the psycho-therapeutic nature of a treatment dispensed by people with no medical qualifications, and claim made by Scientology to be "capable of curing some 70 percent of human illnesses, including those formerly considered to be without help - radioactive burns, the atomic bomb, etc."

In a statement sent to the French Ministry of Justice, D. Gaiman of the executive council of the Church of Scientology of Great Britain, accused the French court of having perpetrated a travesty of justice. He demanded that the judges of the Tribunal be "reprimanded and threatened to take the matter to an international court.

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