Scientologists may soon be facing their most challenging court case yet. After a years long legal battle, federal prosecutors in Belgium now believe that their investigation is complete enough to charge the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization on charges of extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal practice of medicine.
Flanders News reports that 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."
The Belgian newspaper added:
"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."
Two Belgian newspapers, De Tijd and L'Echo, are also reporting that the Belgian federal attorney is now seeking prosecution.
According to multiple reports, the Belgian government will not charge Scientology for being a cult. Instead, they are focusing on prosecuting it as a criminal organization, which is a rather new twist. Most of the groups court battles to date have focused on establishing its legitimacy as a religion.
Belgian authorities have been battling with Scientologists since 2007, when the government tried to label the group with a cult status.
The Church of Scientology's European headquarters are located in Brussels, so any ban in Belgium could be devastating to the group.