Introduction: A Trial in Paris
by Miguel Martinez
In 1996, I was sued by the director of the French branch of New Acropolis (hereinafter NA), Fernand Schwarz, for an interview I gave to the French TV Canal Plus, together with my interviewers. The interview was part of a transmission which gave the impression that the cult had Nazi and paramilitary features.
Surprisingly enough, in the case of such an important TV channel, no defence was prepared.
Spring 1997, a small room in the Paris court. The vivacious NA lawyer justifies the actions of NA, saying that "Le double langage fait parti de l'école ésoterique" ("double-speak is part of any esoteric school"). He shows the judges - so sleepy they often closed their eyes - a picture of the Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France, posing in front of an enormous fasces, in order to show how an "initiation centre" like NA too has a right to its own symbolism. He also mentions how in French public schools, a Roman-style salute is used, an uncalled for statement unless it were true that NA also uses the same salute, something which the organization, at least in Italy, denies.
The sentence was published on July 2.
"Whereas the phenomon of the growth of cults, and the danger some of them pose justifies [...] gathering information on the operation" of NA, the sentence acknowledges that journalists had the right to make use of the Parliament report which spoke of the "double face, external and internal" of the group. The Court stated that "the documents possessed by the journalists also revealed the use of signs and symbols which implied a worrying resemblance to those used in the recent past by Nazism and its allies (the axe; the S of 'security, service, silence, secret'; the arm raised in a salute…)". The sentence admitted the existence of "documents for inside use only", mentioning the Leader's Manual.
However, the judges, although explicitly stating that "this Court is not competent to take a stand regarding the validity or the inaccuracy" of the accusations made against NA, condemned the journalists for having listened only to NA's critics and for having entered NA's headquarters in Paris with a hidden camera. Without any further explanation, the sentence condemned me too "in solidum", although I could hardly be held responsible for the decisions taken by the TV channel.
Basically, therefore, the sentence condemns the methods employed by the journalists, and expresses no opinion either on my statements or on NA.
On March 13, 1998, this sentence was overturned
by the Paris Court of Appeal, which recognized that the accusation
was drawn up in such a vague manner as to make any defence impossible.