France May Dissolve Church of Scientology

Prosecutors accuse body of fraud.

In a groundbreaking case, a Paris court will decide for the first time whether to dissolve the Church of Scientology in France, which is facing charges of organized fraud.

The demand was made by French prosecutors on Monday (June 15) as they wrapped up their case against the church's Paris headquarters and bookshop. If found guilty, the institutions may also face a nearly $6 million fine.

Six members of the church are also on trial, and may also face heavy fines along with prison sentences if convicted.

The plaintiffs, two former Scientologists, claim the church conned them into spending tens of thousands of dollars in bogus products in the 1990s, including an "electrometer" that the church says can measure energy levels.

But the church, which claims a membership of 45,000 in France, rejects the accusations and claims it is being persecuted.

The plaintiffs, are "apostates who ... want to criticize their ex-religion," Fabio Amicarelli, a European Scientology representative, told French media ...

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