French scientology officials indicted

AFP/May 7, 2003

Paris -- A French investigating magistrate has indicted two officials of the US-based Church of Scientology on counts of fraud and "practising pharmacy illegally," court sources said Wednesday.

Alain Rosenberg, head of the Scientology Celebrity Center in Paris, was placed under investigation on counts of fraud and complicity in illegally practising pharmacy.

Aline Fabre is likewise under investigation for illegally practising pharmacy in that she was alleged to have sold high-dosage vitamins.

Rosenberg is also suspected of involvement in subjecting a plaintiff to personality tests without scientific base.

Investigators are exmaining whether the tests might have been used in attempts to obtain money from individuals on the pretence of psychological counselling.

The charges were laid as part of an inquiry into the French Scientology church launched in December 1998 after a civil suit had been filed.

Aram Kevorkian, the two scientologists' lawyer, told AFP that "placing someone under investigation doesn't mean that they are guilty, and the suspicions are unfounded."

"Nothing forbids anyone from carrying out personality tests and these tests had a scientific foundation... Vitamins can be sold elsewhere other than in pharmacies."

Magistrate Colette Bismuth Sauron, who indicted the two scientologists, is also in charge of several other Scientology-related cases.

Bismuth Sauron this week threw out one of the cases, in which crucial legal files went missing in 1998, saying that nobody was to blame.

Founded in the US in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology was accorded the status of religion there in 1993, but is regarded with suspicion in many European countries, where opponents accuse it of manipulating adherents for financial ends.

In France, where it is classified as a cult, Scientology claims around 10,000 members.

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