France's top court on Wednesday confirmed the conviction of Scientology for organised fraud, according to French media reports.
The ruling, by the Cour de Cassation, effectively ends the legal battle in France, making the convictions definitive, RFI radio and BFMTV reported.
Even before the judgment was handed down, the movement's lawyers had said that they would take the fight to the European Court of Human Rights if it went against them.
Last year, the appeal court fined two Scientology organisations 400,000 euros and 200,000 respectively.
Scientology was trying to get those sentences quashed and in legal arguments last month tried to portray the convictions as an attack on their religious freedom.
For immediate coverage, go to Tony Ortega's Underground Bunker. I will file a longer post here when I've caught up on my sleep deficit.
But for the moment...
How Things Stand
The Celebrity Centre, a supposedly non-profit association that was raking in the money -- Association Spirituelle de l’Eglise de Scientologie CC (ASES) -- stands convicted of organised fraud.
It is fined 400,000 euros and ordered to pay for the details of the conviction to be published in several major French newpapers: Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, Le Parisienand Ouest France.
Scientology’s network of bookshops Scientologie Espace Librarie (SEL) also stands convicted of organised fraud. It has been fined 200,000 euros and ordered to pay for the publication of the conviction in the same newspapers.
The following appeal court convictions and sentences are also confirmed in Cassation:
- Alain Rosenberg, the managing director of the Celebrity Centre, was convicted of organised fraud and of complicity in the illegal exercise of pharmacy. He got a two-year suspended prison sentence and 30,000-euro fine.
- Didier Michaux, the bookshop’s star salesman, was convicted of organised fraud. He got an 18-month suspended sentence and 20,000-euro fine.
- Jean-François Valli, the other bookshop salesman, who also did work for the Celebrity Centre,was convicted of organised fraud. He got an 18-month suspended sentence and a 10,000-euro fine.
- Sabine Jacquart was convicted of organised fraud and of complicity in the illegal exercise of pharmacy. She got a two-year suspended sentence and 30,000-euro fine (up from 10 months suspended and a 5,000-euro fine). At the time in question, Jacquart was president of the Celebrity Centre.
- Aline Fabre, who supervised the Purification Rundown at the Celebrity Centre, was convicted of the illegal exercise of pharmacy. She was fined 10,000 euros (up from the 2,000-euro fine she got in the original sentence).
As state prosecutor Michel Gauthier had pointed out to the court last month, Malton had written to the appeal court before the trial started to say she was withdrawing from the case as a plaintiff. So that part of the ruling came as no surprise.
The only crumb of comfort for Scientology came in the Cassation ruling dismissing the bid by UNADFI, the counter-cult group, to be admitted as a plaintiff in the case.
Again though, this was no surprise: the lower courts both rejected UNADFI's bid -- but that did not stop UNADFI being represented in court during each stage of the legal process.
A sixth person was convicted at the original trial and fined 1,000 euros. Although she initially appealed, she did not turn up at the appeal trial, so her conviction and fine were confirmed by default.