Here’s an interesting development. Prosecutors in Belgium, where the “Church” of Scientology has its European headquarters, are preparing to file criminal charges against the organization for extortion, fraud, illegal practice of medicine and privacy violations.
“The decision follows years of investigation that was triggered by a complaint by the Labour Mediation Service in the Brussels Region. Labour mediators were unhappy with a number of labour contracts,” reads the report from Flanders News. “The matter ended up on the desk of examining magistrate Michel Claise, who ordered raids on Church of Scientology premises in 2008. During the raids police managed to seize a wealth of evidence,” they add. And (with the help of Google translate) Belgian newspapers De Tijd andL’Echo are both reporting that the Belgian federal attorney is now seeking prosecution.
Multiple reports and the group’s legal history point to one key factor here: The Belgian government won’t charge Scientology for being a cult — authorities are focusing on prosecuting it as a criminal organization. Which is a new twist, as most of the group’s many court battles over the years have focused on establishing its legitimacy as a religion.
If this works, it could be replicated in other countries. They’ve already been convicted of fraud in France. And if the evidence seized here builds a strong case, there’s no reason it couldn’t be used elsewhere.