Monday 11 November 2013

The Paris Trial coverage: 2009-2014

Start here for exhaustive coverage of the Paris trial of Scientology for organised fraud: reports from inside the courtrooms and details of the broader political controversy.

Listed below is Infinite Complacency's complete coverage of the Paris trial of Scientology for fraud, organised fraud and the illegal practice of pharmacy.

You will find reports from the original trial in 2009, the 2011 appeal, all the way through to the final ruling at the Court of Cassation, France's top court, in 2013. There is extensive analysis too of the battles fought outside the courtroom.

And since Scientology tried to take its case to the European Court of Human Rights, I covered that in the final article, "Case Closed".

A Paris court is to try six Scientologists and two of the movement’s associations in a case that could lead to much of its operations in France being shut down.

After the first plaintiff had testified, the defendant accused of having defrauded her gave his side of the story.

On the third day of the Paris trial of Scientology, the judge questioned another defendant, one of the movement’s top salesmen.

A second plaintiff told the court how her Scientologist employer had put her under ever-increasing pressure to take the movement’s courses.

Scientology’s techniques abuse the transference process familiar to all therapists, a psychiatrist told the court.

A Paris court heard how a company director's massive spending on Scientology put his business at risk.

As a Paris court considered the high doses of vitamins used in Scientology's Purification Rundown, an expert witness dismissed the programme as quackery.

Scientology's Purification Rundown – combining exercise, sauna sessions and massive doses of vitamins – is not just a religious ritual but can also cure radiation, one defendant told the court.

The onetime executive director of Scientology’s Paris Celebrity Centre, presented a vigorous defence to the court – to the point that he had to be called to order by his own lawyer.

Questioned closely by the judge about the substantial amounts of money taken from clients, the former executive director of the Celebrity Centre insisted that Scientology was about “ethics, honesty, respect”.

Between tears and anger, the former president of Scientology’s Paris Celebrity Centre denounced what she called the persecution of her church – and her own harassment by critics of the movement.

Under hostile questioning from the plaintiffs' lawyers and the prosecution, the former president of the Celebrity Centre became increasingly emotional.

Scientology called two expert witnesses to defend the effectiveness of the e-meter used in their counselling sessions – but did not quite get what they had bargained for.

This short annexe explains why one expert thought that Scientologists didn't know how to operate their own e-meter.

Veteran politician Jean-Pierre Brard sketched a damning profile of Scientology in a presentation that ranged from its financial structure to theories of mind control.

Scientology’s personality test is fixed to exaggerate people’s weaknesses and Scientologists themselves are trained to lie to the court, former member Roger Gonnet told the court.

Scientology’s Purification Rundown is so dangerous it almost killed one of his clients, former Scientologist Roger Gonnet told the Paris court.

A US doctor mounted a vigorous defence of Scientology’s Purification Rundown, the controversial treatment at the centre of the Paris trial.

A succession of defence witnesses lined up to defend Scientology, including an internationally recognised concert pianist, a distinguished academic – even a psychiatrist.

More witnesses stepped forward to speak up for the defendants and denounce what they said was French persecution of their religion.

As more Scientologists spoke up for the defendants and their own beliefs, the gulf between their vision of accused and that of the plaintiffs grew ever wider.

Should UNADFI, the French anti-cult federation, be allowed the status of plaintiff in the case against Scientology? UNADFI president Catherine Picard debated the issue with the movement's lawyers.

The personality test is not a major recruitment tool, all refund requests are granted and “hard sell” means taking care of people, a Scientologist told the court.

The Purification Rundown is a religious purification rite that cures nothing, Scientologist Eric Roux told the court.

Scientology’s network of bookshops in France is entirely independent of the Paris Celebrity Centre, its representative insisted, defending a key plank of their joint defence against fraud charges.

As the third week of the trial drew to a close the main plaintiff, Aude-Claire Malton, fended off a final challenge from the defence lawyers.

Medicinal claims made for Scientology’s Purification Rundown – and the high doses of vitamins used – amount to the illegal practice of pharmacy, said the lawyer representing France's Order of Pharmacists.

Unscrupulous organisations can gain a psychological hold on people, argued the lawyer for the plaintiffs -- and Scientology is a past master at the art.

The prosecutors’ closing arguments created a sensation at the trial: as well as calling for convictions for the individual defendants, they argued for the dissolution of the two organisations charged.

The second half of the prosecution’s closing arguments focussed on the evidence of fraud – by the individual defendants and the two Scientology organisations charged.

A round-up of the sentences the prosecution called for.

The go-between who supplied vitamins for the Purification Rundown is a victim of France’s obsession with prosecuting ‘cults’ and its refusal to respect European law on food supplements, her lawyer argued.

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.

The former president of the Celebrity Centre is a scapegoat in a symbolic trial against Scientology, said her lawyer, citing a host of distinguished legal authorities on freedom of religion.

A devoted Scientologist risks being convicted for his beliefs because the government has left the job of dealing with Scientology to the courts instead of assuming its responsibilities, his lawyer argued.

The Scientologist and salesman accused of fraud has been tried in an atmosphere tainted by media hysteria and soured by a prosecution summing up that smacks of the Inquisition, his lawyer argued.

The former executive director of Scientology's Celebrity Centre should not be convicted because three people out of thousands of happy Scientologists had filed complaints, his lawyer argued.

SEL, France's network of Scientology bookshops, is the victim of a modern witch hunt in which the trappings of the movement's beliefs have been interpreted as evidence of its guilt, said SEL's lawyer.

The Celebrity Centre should not be convicted on the basis of prejudice and preconceptions against Scientology, lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve argued, as the trial drew to a close.

A hitherto unnoticed change in French law will prevent a court from dissolving the two Scientology organisations charged in the Paris trial, as prosecutors had recommended.

A summary of the verdict and sentences in the Paris trial of Scientology, following the same format as What the Prosecution Wants, posted earlier.

A detailed review and analysis of the original court judgment ahead of the trial on appeal.

Even before its appeal trial opened, Scientology fought back against the 2009 fraud convictions with accusations of judicial bias and suggestions of political pressure.

Scientology had vowed to expose the case against them as empty. In court however, the procedural motions launched by their lawyers' delayed any examination of the facts of the case.

Scientology’s lawyers took three hours to attack counter-cult group UNADFI’s bid to be admitted as a plaintiff in the Paris appeal trial. Ten minutes into their lawyer’s response, the proceedings degenerated into a shouting match.

The judge in Scientology’s Paris appeal trial deferred a decision on French counter-cult group UNADFI’s status at the trial, effectively allowing them to play a full role in proceedings – a major blow to the defence.

On the sixth day of the trial on appeal, after the court rejected Scientology's final bid to exclude the counter-cult group UNADFI from the proceedings, the defendants and their lawyers walked out, claiming they were being denied a fair trial.

The prosecutor in the Paris appeal trial of Scientology called for the fines handed down to the two Scientology organisations convicted at the original trial to be more than doubled.

The Court of Appeal in Paris confirmed the convictions of the two Scientology organisations for organised fraud, a decision which some say is the beginning of the end for the movement.

Leading opponents of Scientology say the Paris appeal court convictions of two of its organisations mark the beginning of the end for the movement in France. It is no idle threat.

Scientology is arguing that the magistrate who prepared the organised fraud case against it was “indoctrinated”: the latest in a series of bids to get its conviction overturned.

Scientology's campaign to present its Paris convictions as a miscarriage of justice betrays the movement's conspiratorial mindset.

France's top court will next week rule whether the appeal court's fraud convictions against Scientology should stand. Here is how we got here.

It was not the role of the Paris Court of Appeal to act as a chamber of inquisition, a Scientology lawyer told France's top court.

Vitamins used in Scientology's Purification Rundown are no more medicines than sweets or beauty products, a Scientology lawyer told France's top court.

Scientology's religious freedom defence is irrelevant, the lawyer for counter-cult group UNADFI argued, as the state prosecutor denounced the movement as a “villainous enterprise”.

Four years after the first court ruling against the movement, Scientology has lost its appeal against fraud convictions at France's top court.

A French court has awarded Scientology damages for delays in the long legal battle that ended in fraud convictions against it last year. But it's not quite the victory they were hoping for.

A Scientologist who tried to get France’s counter-cult group UNADFI sanctioned over its role in a major court case against the movement got a taste of her own medicine.

57 Case Closed

The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed Scientology's bid to challenge its conviction for organised fraud in France. A second conviction in France could threaten its very existence there.


  1. Hi Jonny! Thank you for the excellent index! Bravo!

  2. A good help for navigating this large number of excellent posts.

  3. Question: Did the criminal organisation known as the "church" of $cientology ever publish the verdict as ordered by the first sentence? To my non-lawyer mind, they should be out of options at this stage.

  4. Sorry Jens, meant to get back to you on this ages ago. The short answer is I don't know, but I imagine they have. I've not had time to follow this up: I've little time to do anything for the site and unfortunately that's no likely to change for some time.