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Missing Scientology Papers Addressed

September 16, 1999

PARIS (AP) _ The controversial disappearance of 3 tons of documentary evidence in the upcoming trial of several members of the Church of Scientology was due to a mistake by a court clerk, the French justice minister said Wednesday.

The revelation last week that the documents were missing from a Marseille court where the trial is to be held triggered an uproar, and speculation about who may have been responsible.

Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou said a report by inspectors turned into her Tuesday ``confirmed that this disappearance is an error.″

Work methods would need to be revised, she added.

The documents were related to an investigation that began in 1990 into Scientology leaders in Marseille and Nice for alleged fraud, illegal practice of medicine and premeditated violence. They are to go on trial on Sept. 20.

Asked about the disappearance last year in Paris of documents that were part of a judicial investigation on scientologists, Guigou replied that ``that is perhaps not an error.″ She said she has requested more information from inspectors on that disappearance.

France has long had a contentious relationship with Scientology.

In July, France’s highest court upheld the acquittal of eight Scientology members accused of corruption and theft, ruling it lacked the authority to decide whether Scientology is a religion.

However, France registers the Church of Scientology on a list of 173 groups to be tracked to prevent cult activities. Most other European countries also do not accept it as a religion.

Founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the organization teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve human problems.