El Mundo Periodico

Trial of 17 members of the Church of Scientology postponed

April 29, 2000



A decision was made yesterday during the Fourth Session of the Provincial Hearings in Madrid to postpone the trial in the Church of Scientology case until the 6th of June; it had been predicted to begin next Wednesday, May 3rd. The court has assented to the petition to delay presented by the parties, and to which the Attorney General was not opposed, for the purpose of systemizing some situations with the public Treasury before commencing with the oral trial, according to informed European Press sources.

The Office of the Public Prosecutor in Madrid is seeking a sentence of a 56-year prison term of the American Reverend Heber Jentche, world-wide leader of the Church of Scientology, and a total of 36 years of jail time for sixteen other followers. The trial, that was begun by a court in Madrid more than 16 years ago, and whose beginning has been suspended several times, will have almost 150 witnesses.

The office of the public ministry considers the defendants responsible for crimes of unlawful association, treasury [tax] fraud, of practicing without professional qualifications, of invasion of privacy, of injuries, of harm to the public health, of threats, labor law illegalities, of usurpation of functions, of simulating a crime, of false accusation, and of illegal detention.

According to initial conclusions written by the Public Prosecutor, to which the European Press had access, the Church of Scientology began to exert its activities in Spain in 1976 with the creation of a series of centers that happened to form part of an international pyramidal structure. In the vertex of the pyramid is the Religious Technology Center, located in Los Angeles, which leads to the actual Church of Scientology and its rehabilitation centers for drug addicts, narconones [Narconons] and drogonones [Drugonons].

The public prosecutor estimates that while establishing itself in Spain, the Church of Scientology committed the crimes of unlawful association; crimes against the public treasury for not paying its taxes; invasion of privacy; administering medicine to drug addicts and psychiatric treatment to followers without having qualified professionals to do so; and for threats and injuries to persons considered to be its adversaries.

In addition, the public prosecutor considers that some of the defendants committed crimes against the public welfare [health] by providing preparations in their rehabilitations centers; labor crimes, for the conditions in which employees of the organization worked; simulation of a crime; slandar; of a robbery presumably fabricated in order to accuse "a suppressive" follower and usurpation of functions and illegal detention by arresting a member in the Barajas airport who wished to leave the Church.

translated from the original Spanish article by Heather Bennett