Belgian justice prosecutes Scientology
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The federal prosecution in Belgium has finished an investigation into the activities of the Scientology Church in the country, and is planning to file a lawsuit against the Belgian and European sections of the religious movement, and 14 individual members.
The inquiry began in 1999 after some former members accused Scientology of swindling. Now, the prosecutor has finished the inquiry. The accounts against Scientology and some of its members include blackmailing, swindling of its members, breaking trade and privacy laws, unlawfully practicing medicine, and forming a criminal organisation.
If it comes to a trial, it would be the first time the movement is prosecuted on this scale. In some countries Scientology is recognised as an official religion, and Scientology has celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta as followers.
Members follow expensive trainings for their spiritual development, but some accuse Scientology of manipulation and brainwashing. The Church has come under controversy before with a wide variety of accusations, including a variety of criminal charges such as in 1978 when prominent members were caught engaging in wiretapping, and stealing documents from United States Internal Revenue Service. Yesterday, the European bureau could not give a reaction to the Belgian press. In the past however, the movement has repeatedly denied allegations against it.
- Alastair Dalton. "Scientology branded a 'criminal organisation' and may face charges" — The Scotsman, September 5, 2007
- "Federaal parket vervolgt Scientology" — De Standaard, September 4, 2007 (Dutch)
- "Scientology in België voor de rechter?" — VRT Nieuws, September 4, 2007 (Dutch)
- "Parket vervolgt Scientology" — De Tijd, September 4, 2007 (Dutch)