Greek Scientologists appeal closure order


ATHENS - AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE from Dialog via Individual Inc. : The Greek branch of the Scientology Church on Tuesday lodged an appeal against a ruling by an Athens court ordering it to be shut down, judicial officials said.

The appeal will allow the church -- known here as the Centre for Applied Philosophy (KEPHE) -- to continue its activities in Greece, pending the decision of the appeals court, the sources said.

A lower court announced in Athens on Monday that the church, which has attracted controversy in other European countries, was being dissovled following a complaint by the Athens prefect which accused the church "of becoming a centre of proselytyzing."

The prefect, Dimitris Efstathiadis, backed by the Greek Orthodox Church, ordered an inquiry into the church after receiving a petition of 4,000 signatures, including those of families of young church members.

The court made its decision on December 20 but only made its ruling public on Monday.

The court said the church's "primary objective" was finding members "it could brainwash to create beings with no will of their own."

Hostility to the church has also surfaced in Germany where authorities have been waging a campaign against the Scientologists, accusing them of anti-democratic behaviour and "pretentions at domination."

The president of the Scientology Church, Heber Jentzsch, said in a statement: "The church will presist until we bring Greece out of its Third World status as far as religious freedom is concerned and into complience with international human rights standards."

During a recent press conference, KEPHE chief Kaitie Diamantara claimed that the centre had investigated the petition with help from a graphologist who found that some people had signed the petition several times.

[01-22-97 at 16:07 EST, Copyright 1997, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE]