The leaders of the Church of the Scientology will be judged in Madrid for 12 crimes
The public prosecutor requests 30 years of jail for the world-wide leader of the sect, Heber Jentzsch
Jose Antonio Hernandez, Madrid
The Church of the Scientology will be subjected to a thorogh trial for the first time in Spain. From the 1 of June and to September, the Court of Madrid will judge 18 leaders and followers of the organization, among them its world-wide leader, the North American Heber Jentzsch, for 12 crimes. The latter faces a fiscal request of 30 years of prison for several crimes. Scientology was dissolved in Greece and accused of "practices of espionage" in Germany. Their practices in Spain were revealed in 1988, after a spectacular police raid that resulted in 37 arrests.
The Church of the Scientology was established in Spain in 1968 to promote the doctrine of its founder, Ronald Hubbard, and with the purpose of catching people with problems to put under them a vortex of expensive short courses (up to 50) with the promise to purify their spirits and to heal their evils. These were therapies that caused serious mental disturbances to the people caught in the nets of the organization, according to the public prosecutor.
The 18 defendants, in their majority leaders of Dianética España and of the detoxication centers of Narconón, will have to respond before the Fourth Section of the Provincial Hearing for a total of 12 crimes: illicit association against freedom and security at work, against the public health, fraud with regard to property, threats, professional intrusismo, usurpation of functions, unlawful detention, injuries, false denounciations, participation, and false pretention of crime.
Among the defendants are the president of Dianética, Arturo Reguera; its ex- presidents Enrique Ayuso, Antonia Navarro and Montserrat Eyrie, and the leaders of this organization Carmen Muñnoz, Victoria de Blas and Enrique Coll, as well as other leaders of Narconón.
The public prosecutor compares to the Scientology "to a sect" that disguises itself "as a church" with the double objective of tax evasion and of using people "to make money and more money". "Its lack of scruples is of such a magnitude, that many of their illegal activities seem to be regulated" in a kind of ethical code that contains humiliating punishments for those that violate it.
In order to get followers, the tentacles of Scientology were using the so called personality test. That is to say, a test of the potential members took place, where it was common that some psychological or physical problem was found. That problem, often fictitious, had a solution that always consisted of the submission of the patient to a very expensive therapy. They would even reassure that they were able to cure cancer.
Among the techniques of spiritual and corporal regeneration employed, the prosecutor mentions the brain washing that the organization carried out on undisciplined members.
That luck of catharsis consisted, always according to the public prosecutor, in locking them up for days in a room without food nor sleep and subjecting them to intimidations and harassing interrogations.
Ángel P.I. was one of the victims, says the public prosecutor. In this man, the deprogrammers detected a psychological problem that was curable if he was subjected to one of the courses. For the 110,000 pesetas that he paid they made him take substances that hospitalized him with diabetic coma. In his writ of accusation the public prosecutor also attacks the methods used by Scientology in it care centers for drug addicts. In addition to being detrimental to health, maintains the public prosecutor, "those practices lacked all scientific foundation".
All their property
He also recounts the case of Ana G. R., who fell in the nets of Scientology victim of a strong depression after separating from her husband. The woman invested all her savings in the courses and, as they did not cease to request money from her, she had to sell her jewels, her apartment and a local, that is to say, all her properties.
Once she was squeezed, the organization sent her to Denmark, where she was subjected to the short course of strong ethics. The woman protested her situation and it was necessary "to shut her up". In Denmark they forced her to perform "exhausting domestic tasks", accompanied by shouts and threats. The woman, assures the public prosecutor, ended up "vomiting blood". The organization transferred her finally to Barcelona and ended up expelling her when she did not have a penny left. The public prosecutor speaks of the "economic bleeding" to which the victims were subjected.
Ana C. B. was accosted by a member of Scientology in a street in Barcelona (strong press campaigns were also used to haul in adherents). She was proposed to take a free personality test that would allow her to complete her studies with greater success. The girl, says the prosecutor, began "to gradually break contact with her family and friends" and fell "in a deep depression" that it took her two years to recover from, after her family managed to pull her out of Scientology.
Another accusation that the public prosecutor makes against Scientology regards the false titles in psychology and psychiatry used by those in charge of the followers in the centers. That is to say, drug addicts were placed in the hands of people "without any psychiatric or psychological degrees or knowledge".
The result was that many of the followers entered the organization with light depressions and ended up with authentic cases of schizophrenia. This happened to Carmen G. R., who destroyed her personality and lost her desire to live after following the courses of the organization. Something similar happened to him to Enrique B. M., who, after having been subjected to the aggressive therapies of the organization, "almost completely lost his capacity to reason and left his university studies, ending in a state devoid of emotions".
"A dangerous organization", according to the public prosecutor
J. A. H., Madrid
In some passages of its extensive writ of accusation, the Office of the public prosecutor of Madrid defines Scientology as "an extremely dangerous organization" which appears to be more "a sect" than a religion. A demonstrated danger, according to the public prosecutor, in the investigations that Scientology deployed in search of dirty laundry to try to discredit journalists, the ex- deputy Pilar Salarrullana and even the very Madrid judge that carried out the investigation, the now magistrate of the Provincial Court of Madrid José María Vázquez Honrubia.
Such was the pressure on the judge, that he chose to opt out of the investigation, although he first ordered a raid which ended in 37 arrests. The operation was called Operation Dew and took place on the 20 th of November 1988. A total of 71 national and international leaders of Scientology had gathered that day in a hotel of Madrid.
After arduous investigation that had begun a year earlier, the judge issued that day 37 orders of arrest and ordered the search of the 19 offices that Scientology (Narconón and Dianética) had at the time in Madrid, and of others located in Valencia, Barcelona, Bilbao, Alicante, Sevilla and Jerez. Many of them were released after giving declarations, but others, among them the highest leader, Heber Jentzsch, were jailed. Jentzsch, that is a resident of the United States, is the main suspect in the trial that is being prepared by section four, presided by Pilar Oliván.
Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, advocated a doctrine aimed at purifying the individual by freeing him from the harmful agents that depersonalise him. He was painting a world in which, by means of a kind of short courses and performances on the human mind, a person could free itself of drugs and purge his physical evils. For this he had to be subjected to a series of short courses and a ferocious discipline, contained in what Hubbard called the ethics codes. More than just regulating coexistence, these norms were a true Penal Code, explains the prosecutor's office. It included severe punishments for the díscolos followers, from forced transfers and confinements with "rigorous work", to clear threats of revealing the sexual conduct and experiences of people, followers or not, that are considered harmful for the organization.
In fact, maintains the public prosecutor, behind Scientology looms a scam that is guided by an "obsessive and undisciplined eagerness for profit and enrichment".
"You don't want to leave because you don't realise that you are inside"
PABLO ORDAZ, Madrid
"You are embarquing on an adventure. May you never be the same again". Thus, with an enigmatic quote of L. Ronald Hubbard, the founding father, the Church of the Scientology announces itself on the Internet. What for thousands of Spaniards is the only way to reach heaven, is for others - an indeterminate number of ex- followers, many of them with serious psychological sequels, an "authentic hell, which you do not wish to leave because you do not realise that you are in it".
One of them, happy that finally the trial of his old spiritual leaders is approaching, related his yesterday his terrible experiences. "I was caught, swindled and mentally manipulated. The consequences were very severe; the aim: to get my money". "They always seduce you in the same way", he adds, while imploring that his identity remains secret, "they awaken your curiosity, your desire to improve your personality, they create fictitious problems for you and soon they offer you solutions, also fictitious; the only thing that is real is the money that they make you part with to pay for your spiritual tranquility".
The hallucinating story of the ex- follower hardly conceals his bitterness for six lost years: "they make you believe that thousands of years back a dictator called Xenu placed all of humanity in a volcano and then detonated an atomic bomb. The souls of all of them were stuck to ours like leeches, and only through the Scientology you can be freed from the experiences of the past. After seeing that you have been freed, you feel fantastic and you think: it's thousands of years ago that I feelt so good".
In spite of testimonies such as this, Mark Eeraerts, Scientology's representative in Spain, puts forward an unquestionable reality: "We are an absolutely legal church". The church has papers, fiscal registration and even a homepage on Internet.