The Church of Scientology was acquitted of organized crime charges in Belgium court.
A Belgium court has dismissed a case against 11 members of the the Church of Scientology that accuses the organization of forming a criminal organization and practicing alleged fraud, unlawful medicine, extortion and invasion of privacy. The judge declared that the group was unfairly targeted primarily because of their religious affiliation.
Judge Yves Regimont, speaking at the Palace of Justice in Brussels, cited prejudice against the church and called out prosecutors for a vague case. “The entire proceedings are declared inadmissible for a serious and irremediable breach of the right to a fair trial. The defendants were prosecuted primarily because they were Scientologists,” said Regimont. The trial lasted for seven weeks and was concluded last December.
Pascal Vanderveeren, Church of Scientology lawyer, agreed with the judge’s statement. “This was a religious case and nothing else,” he asserted. “If you’ve said that you’ve said it all.”
Scientology spokesman Eric Roux expressed relief over the favorable final decision. “When you have had 20 years of your life under a pressure that you know is unfair, where one attacks your beliefs and not something you have done, the day when the court says it officially, it’s a big relief,” said Roux.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 11, 2016
Marie Abadi, former Scientologist who has since turned into a church critic, was disappointed and expected an appeal. The prosecutors demand was that the Belgian Church of Scientology and affiliated European Bureau be completely dissolved, and that they be fined for the charges. In defense of their organization, the church said that the charges were only made to damage their reputation. The first investigation was launched in 1997.
The Church of Scientology has headquarters in Los Angeles and was founded by American author L. Ron Hubbard. It has been recognized as a religion in the United States and in countries like Italy, Spain, Netherlands and Sweden. According to the church, they have an international following of about 12 million.