Scientology President Remains In Jail Pending Charges
MADRID, Spain (AP) _ The head of the Church of Scientology International remains in prison without bail pending pending further investigation of charges of fraud, criminal association and tax evasion, a court clerk said Monday.
Judge Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia does not plan to set bail for Heber Jentzsch of Los Angeles, whom he ordered jailed Nov. 23, the clerk said.
″The judge has no intention of freeing him on bail,″ said the clerk, who spoke on condition of anonymity. She said Vazquez Honrubia had at least three months before he was legally required to file formal charges against Jentzsch.
Jentzsch, 53, has been held at the Carabanchel Prison outside Madrid together with 10 others who were arrested in a raid Nov. 20. After questioning all 71 people arrested in the raid, Vazquez Honrubia expelled 10 foreigners and released 50 others.
The clerk said Vazquez Honrubia was still preparing charges based on his nine-month investigation into the activities of the Church of Scientology and Narconon, a church-linked drug rehabilitation program that the judge said swindled its clients and lured them into Scientology.
Scientology officials in Madrid said Jentzsch had nothing to do with church finances and could not have committed crimes in Spain since he had never been in the country before November.
″The absolute truth, above good or bad, is that Heber works a job similar to that of ambassador,″ said Andrea Hoden, a Los Angeles-based church official. ″He does not handle financial or administrative matters.″
The Church of Scientology, founded in the 1950s by science fiction author and former U.S. Navy officer L. Ron Hubbard, is based on writings published in Hubbard’s 1949 book, ″Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.″
Followers strive toward a ″clear state″ by using a lie detector-type device called an ″E-Meter,″ coupled with exercise and counseling.
Hubbard held the position of founder and executive director of the church, and Jentzsch is president, Ms. Hoden said.
She said Church of Scientology officials had offered through Jentzsch’s Spanish lawyers to sort out responsibility for possible wrongdoings, but Vazquez Honrubia had refused to release details of the alleged charges and denied church lawyers access to documents seized in the raid.
″What we thought was a tragic mistake has now turned into a human rights violation,″ Ms. Hoden said.
Vazquez Honrubia said authorities had frozen $1.76 million in bank accounts belonging to officials of the church and Narconon because the money had not been declared to tax authorities.
He said his Madrid District Court 21 had been ″flooded″ with calls from Spaniards who said they had been swindled by Narconon. He said he planned to hand over the case to a court with national jurisdiction once he had completed compiling the results of his investigation.
The Justice Ministry has twice denied the Church of Scientology status as a religious entity.
Ms. Hoden appeared at a press conference Monday with American opera singer Julia Migenes, who denounced Jentzsch’s imprisonment as ″a great error.″
Migenes described herself as a Scientologist and a close friend of Jentzsch, who she said was ″a man of great dreams, great qualities and honesty.″
Migenes said she had filed a formal complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Commission, asking the Geneva-based body to investigate the arrest and imprisonment of Jentzsch.
Another Scientologist and friend of Jentzsch, jazz pianist Chick Corea, appeared in Madrid Nov. 26 to defend the jailed leader.