Saturday, 17 October 2009

31 Defending the Supervisor

June 16: The Scientologist who supervised the Purification Rundown had no case to answer: her accusers had decided she was guilty simply because of her beliefs, her lawyer argued.

Aline Fabre’s lawyer Maître Aurélie Cerceau, had not been impressed with what she had heard on the other side of the court.

Her client was charged with the illegal exercise of pharmacy for her part in running Scientology’s Purification Rundown at the Paris Celebrity Centre.

But Maître Cerceau had the distinct impression that some people had judged her even before the trial had begun. There had been a lot of certainty on the other side of the court, she said.

“They are sure that the good are on one side and the bad on the other – and that you don’t have to go much further than that,” she said.

This kind of logic was brutally simple, said Cerceau. “They are guilty because they are Scientologists, that’s all.”

Fabre’s accusers – the National Council for the Order of Pharmacists (CNOP); UNADFI, the French alliance of anti-cult groups; and the plaintiff Aude-Claire Malton – had not so much demonstrated her guilt as simply affirmed it, she said.

And there had been a similar attitude towards many of the witnesses called in their support.

“We don’t listen to the witnesses because they are Scientologists – and we can’t believe them because ‘they teach Scientologists to lie’,” said Cerceau, referring to a claim that former Scientologist Roger Gonnet had made during his testimony.

We had Scientologists’ testimony on the one side, and that of the plaintiff Aude-Claire Malton (and former plaintiff Eric Aubry) on the other, said Cerceau: “and the only important part of the case is that of those who are incapable of lying.”

Thus Malton’s account of what she said was her ordeal on the Purification Rundown – and the accounts the court had heard of Aubry’s experience – had overshadowed that of the Scientologist called in defence of the defendant Jean-François Valli

M. Sacquet said he had done the Rundown with Malton and not experienced any ill-effects.

Cerceau was scornful of the claims by Maître Olivier Saumon, representing the pharmacists (CNOP), who claimed to have uncovered crucial evidence against Fabre.

Saumon had spoken not just of the note referring Malton to Marie-Anne Pasturel for the vitamins and minerals required for the Rundown, but of a set of labels setting out Malton’s daily doses – both supposedly in Fabre’s handwriting.

(This was important because the prosecution was trying to show that Fabre played a much more active part in the Purification Rundown than she had admitted, allegedly preparing the daily vitamin doses for the participants – and not, as she had said, simply referring them to L. Ron Hubbard’s book on the Rundown, Clear Body, Clear Mind.)

“There is no expertise to show that this is her handwriting, but it was produced as if it was a major piece of evidence,” said Cerceau.

“Malton said it was Mme Fabre’s handwriting: Malton said it, so it is obviously true.

“Fabre said she referred everything back to the book [Clear Body, Clear Mind] – but that is not credible,” she said, once again summing up what she saw as the bias against her client.

Here again, despite the lack of any solid evidence, Malton’s word seemed to count for more than that of Fabre, the Scientologist.

Scientology’s Purification Rundown needed to be seen in its proper context, which was religious, said Cerceau. “Perhaps the other side doesn’t care what the Scientologists say. They don’t care if it is a religion.

“You might think that religion is not part of this debate,” said Cerceau: she was not so sure.

And of the Scientologists’ testimony, she asked: “Has anyone ever said that the Purification Rundown is therapeutic? What they have said is that it is a major part of their religion.”

Aline Fabre had been responsible for making sure the sauna, where much of the Rundown took place, was clean and that everything went well during the procedure, said Cerceau. She ensured that all participants obtained a medical certificate before starting.

All Scientologists who wanted to do the programme – including the plaintiff Malton – had bought Hubbard’s book Clear Body, Clear Mind, which set out the procedure in detail.

Malton struggled to remember

And whatever one thought of Malton’s testimony, one thing was clear, said Cerceau: she was struggling to recall the details.

“When she said ‘Wait, I need to look in my memory’ it made me think of one of those old computers where you need to wait for an answer.”

It was clear however that Aline Fabre had not sold her the vitamins for the Purification Rundown. Nor had she dispensed them – another action covered by the offence of illegal practice of pharmacy – because she had neither delivered the products or given advice on them.

The prosecution had tried to argue that Fabre had prepared the doses for the Rundown participants, Cerceau recalled. “But what do you have that shows that she measured out the doses? I don’t see much.”

The only people qualified to talk about the Rundown were the Scientologists themselves, she argued. “What do they say? …They never said that she measured out the doses.”

Fabre had not even ordered the products for Malton. “She wrote an address on a little piece of paper,” said Cerceau: she had scribbled down Marie-Anne Pasturel’s details.

The prosecution had tried to make much more of Aline Fabre’s role. They suggested she had played a far more active part than the evidence suggested.

“If that had been the case, then why was there so little in writing in the files?” asked Cerceau. “There was nothing – just a little piece of paper.

“Malton ordered the vitamins herself and had them delivered herself.” And it had been exactly the same situation with the former plaintiff Eric Aubry.

Nor was there any network systematically supplying these products to every participant in the Purification Rundown, as the prosecution had tried to suggest.

Of the 15 Scientologists who had given evidence, eight had bought their vitamins from G&G, five from local pharmacies and another two from bio/health food shops.

And if one compared the plaintiff Malton’s court testimony and her previous statements to investigators, there was an important discrepancy.

In court, Malton had said that Aline Fabre had prepared the doses, Cerceau noted. “But she didn’t say that before she got to court. She said Fabre explained the doses – and that is what Fabre said.”

This was a crucial distinction. Fabre had insisted that she only directed participants to Hubbard’s book on the Rundown, Clear Body, Clear Mind – rather than actively counselling them, as the prosecution and the plaintiffs had suggested. If this was true, it considerably weakened the case against her.

During the trial it had been suggested to Malton that in fact, all Fabre had done was consult the book, said Cerceau – and what had Malton replied? “I don’t remember any more.”

Apart from the statements made in court, by a plaintiff who admitted she could not remember all the details of her experience, what evidence was there against Aline Fabre, asked Cerceau?

And why should the court believe the accounts of Malton and the former plaintiff Aubry over that of the Scientologists who had testified?

The court had nothing but the affirmations of two plaintiffs, with no supporting documentary evidence, she argued.

And this was without even raising the question of whether these products had actually been sold illegally for medicinal purposes, or whether they were just food supplements, legitimately sold.

Her colleague, Maître Beucher (for the defendant Anne-Marie Pasturel) had already addressed that issue.

No motive

Another glaring omission from the previous day’s arguments against her client was any discussion of the intentional element of the alleged offence, said Cerceau.[1]

“I have already wondered why the investigating magistrate did not say anything about intention in the indictment,” she added.

Her client had already called for the charges against her to be dropped, said Cerceau.

And she reminded the court that during the pre-trial investigation – if not the trial – the prosecutor’s office had taken a similar view: that there was no case to answer.

“The prosecutor’s office had doubts about the medical nature of these products,” she said.

So how could the court expect Fabre, with no special qualifications, to have had any doubts about these products, which were used by Scientologists – and other people – around the world?

And there was another reason why Fabre could not be expected to have known that she might be committing an offence.

“When she took these products, it was in a spiritual context,” said Cerceau – and one had to remember the circumstances in which these products were being used.

Several Scientologists had said they had experienced some discomfort during the Rundown, but that this had quickly passed.

“How could she know that these were medicines and not food supplements? My client couldn’t know: she couldn’t act with that knowledge,” said Cerceau, calling for Fabre to be cleared.

And returning to her original theme, she asked: “Whose account has more value? The accounts of the Scientologists should be taken at the same value as those of the non-Scientologists.”

[1] During his closing speech Maître Olivier Saumon, representing the CNOP, had acknowledged that Fabre did not personally profit from the supervising the Rundown.

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