London, Sept 9 : The Church of Scientology in France is embroiled in a legal row over an alleged organised fraud.
The religious body will be tried along with seven of its leaders.
A woman has complained against the church that the scientologists had allegedly brought about her financial ruin by pressurising her into paying thousands of pounds for lessons, books, drugs and a device called an "electrometre" which the church says can measure a person's mental state. Boasting Tom Cruise and John Travolta as its members, the church, will be charged for claims including illegally prescribing drugs.
And if found guilty, the controversial body's main centre, in France, the ASES-Celebrity Centre, along with its bookshop, may come to a close.
It has taken 10 years for the case to come to the court, and no trial date been set as yet.
France's professional pharmaceutical association and another plaintiff have also filed for charges.
While people belonging to scientology have been at the centre of legal proceedings, it is for the first time that the church has been dragged to court. The seven members on trial, including Alain Rosenberg, the manager of the ASES-Celebrity Centre, face a maximum seven year jail term if convicted.
The woman has complained that she was allegedly approached by Scientologists in a Paris street in 1998, where she was first offered a personality test, and then invited to hear the results.
This made the judge to order that the church had used "personality tests void of scientific value...with the sole aim of selling services or divers products."
Later, the 33-year old lady was allegedly gradually persuaded to dish out around 25,000 pounds on books, communication and "life healing" lessons, as well as "purification packs", reports the Telegraph.
While claiming to "identify and resolve supposed psychological difficulties or favour personal development, the Scientologists' sole aim was to claim their fortune by exercising a psychological hold over her," the Judge said.
Earlier, in 2006, the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence and now with the announcement of the trial to be conducted after almost 10 years, the plaintiffs described the judge's decision as "courageous".
However, the Church of Scientology denounced the ruling, saying it was being "stigmatised" by the courts.
"The special treatment reserved for the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center raises questions about the equality of the justice system and the presumption of innocence," it said in a statement.