Continuing with our coverage of the just-concluded trial against Scientology in France, this news item from Le Monde is in part made up of quotes from Scientology’s lead attorney, Patrick Maisonneuve, who sees the case as a cop-out on the part of prosecutors. While the charges against Scientology are for organized group fraud and the illegal use of pharmaceuticals, Maisonneuve says the real defendent in the case is religion writ large – and prosecutors simply lack the nerve to go after such a formidable opponent.
Apparently shocked at the turn the case has taken, Maisonneuve is quoted by Le Monde reporter Yves Bordenave as saying in part:
“Such a harsh indictment for people who haven’t enriched themselves with even a cent of a euro! … If the authorities believe that Scientology is a danger to public order, well, these authorities should take up their responsibilities! Let them say it. … Because this is about arbitrating the issue of religion. … We are being asked to dissolve. But I ask you to dissolve prejudices, preconceived notions and attacks on freedom of expression.”
By Yves Bordenave
Translated By Sandrine Ageorges
June 18, 2009
France – Le Monde – Original Article (French)
Patrick Maisonneuve, attorney for the Church of Scientology association, is sure he’s never seen anything like it. Before the Paris court, which has been trying six member of Scientology and its bookstore for “organized fraud” and “illegal use of pharmaceuticals” since May 25, Maisonneuve said, “After thirty years of practice, this is the first time that I’ve seen a request for acquittal pass to a pleading for capital punishment.” The Scientology bookstore and library is being tried as a legal person in its own right.[EDITOR’S NOTE: Maisonneuve refers to the surprising request for dismissal by the public prosecutor at the end of the court investigation The court dismissed the request. In the United States a prosecutor would be unlikely to have made such a request. This has been interpreted by some to show that the Sarkozy government, for who the prosecutors answer to, isn’t too happy about pursuing the case. French courts operate under the Napoleonic Code rather than English common law, from which the U.S. derives its legal code].
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