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French justice in Scientology row

The Times of London, November 9, 1998

[From geoff.bronner@dartmouth.edu Wed Nov 11 19:04:18 GMT 1998]

French justice will face accusations today that it has been manipulated by the Church of Scientology as the Paris Appeal Court rules on whether to continue a 15-year investigation into the organisation.

The disappearance of some of the investigating magistrate's files has fuelled the suspicions of anti-sect campaigners before the hearing. They believe Scientologists have infiltrated the upper echelons of the legal system, using their influence to put pressure on judges and block inquiries. Victims' associations point to unexplained burglaries that have hampered scrutiny. The Church of Scientology, which has 40,000 followers in France, dismisses the claims as a witch-hunt. The judgment is a decisive stage in an inquiry that was launched after allegations that Scientologists had committed fraud and practised "illegal medicine".

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