Church of Scientology ordered to pay $789K

Undated file photo of a Scientology center in Marseilles, France. <a href="" target="_blank">(Dominique PIPET/Wikimeida)</a>
Undated file photo of a Scientology center in Marseilles, France. (Dominique PIPET/Wikimeida)

PARIS, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The Church of Scientology in France was ordered Thursday by an appeals court to pay nearly $789,000 for unfairly taking money from followers.

The appeals court, which confirmed a 2009 fraud conviction, also upheld a fine of about $39,000 and a two-year suspended jail sentence for Scientology movement leader Alain Rosenberg and upheld or increased fines, now about $13,000-$39,000, against five other Scientologists, Radio France Internationale reported.


But the church was not banned from operating in France.

The convictions were for fraud or illegal practice of pharmacy. Plaintiffs said they were given vitamins and concoctions the group said would improve their mental state.

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"This is very good news for those who fight against cults and a serious defeat for the Church of Scientology," said Olivier Morice, lawyer for plaintiff Unadfi, a group that campaigns against sects.

France considers Scientology a cult or sect, not a religion, and has prosecuted individual members but 2009 marked the first time the Church of Scientology as a whole had been convicted.

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