Jean-Pierre JOUGLA

Jean-Pierre JOUGLA

Lawyer, member of UNADFI

Why it is extremely difficult for the Judiciary to understand how cults function? Analysis based as an example on the Order of the Solar Temple[1] movement.


The facts:


The cult organisation named “Order of the Solar Temple” (OST) was created in the years 1975 under the authority of Joseph Di Mambro. [2]


Until October 1994 the activities of the OST had not attracted the particular attention of the law and therefore the whole world was stupefied to learn of the first serial massacres of 53 followers that had simultaneously occurred in this cult on this date, following a common procedure in Quebec and in two other places in Switzerland. This procedure alternating assassination and suicides, staged a symbolic scene: absorption of sedatives, use of a single 22 calibre one-shot gun with silencer and partial cremation of the bodies.

It should be pointed out that, at the time, both the French authorities and concerned associations declared that such a drama could never occur in France!


The effect of an earth quake was therefore perceived in France when the media announced on December 22, 1995 (the massacre having been perpetrated on 16/12) that 16 victims had been discovered in a forest of the Vercors mountain range among who were the wife and one son of a particularly well known French sportsman.


It should be pointed out that one of the characteristics of this unusual cult massacre resided in the fact that it took place one year after the disappearance of the two official leaders of the OST who had committed suicide in Switzerland, which immediately raised the question about who was the instigator of the French massacre.


Recapitulation of the events:


  • 5 followers and former followers deceased (among them baby Christophe Emmanuel, a few months old – dubbed the Antichrist) in Quebec.


  • 23 followers died in Cheiry (Switzerland) and 25 followers in Salvan (Switzerland), among them Jouret, Di Mambro and Emmanuelle L., alias, the “cosmic child”. This massacre gave rise to a Swiss investigation which ended by a discharge insofar as the investigation concluded on a collective suicide.


  • 16 followers perished in Saint-Pierre-of-Chérennes, in Vercors, France. French justice, after 3 complaints from the families of deceased followers, was obliged to pursue Michel Tabachnik on the basis of a particular incrimination, that of “participating in a criminal conspiracy with concealment”. [3]


The law About-Picard voted in June 2001 was not applicable because of the principle of non retroactivity of the law, which did not make it possible to consider the incrimination under article 223-15-2 of the penal code repressing the fraudulent abuse of the state of weakness of people put under constraint.


  • 5 followers died in Saint Casimir (Quebec) in 1997. This massacre was not the subject of pursuits insofar as they were clearly voluntary suicides, but from our point view were considered as “suicides under influence” of the doctrines.


74 people including 11 children were thus to perish because of the OST.


French justice then estimated that the first massacres in Quebec, the Swiss massacres and those of Vercors were linked by a common factor and should be treated as one case.


The Grenoble criminal court released Michel Tabachnik in first instance on June 25, 2001 due to an existing doubt, “because it had not been possible to highlight convincing elements without any hypothetical nature to demonstrate a conscious criminal goal”, which meant simply that in the light of existing evidence it had not been possible to provide convincing proof that he was conscious that his teaching could lead to a death bearing project.


The different civil parties and the public prosecutor’s office appealed against this decision but the families of victims of the Swiss massacres omitted to appeal because they had not understood French procedures and were excluded from the debate.


After several deferrals, the Court of Appeal of Grenoble passed judgement of December 20, 2006.


It is out of question for us to criticise this decision which is now final but simply to use this case as a teaching example, in order show how it was possible that an action undertaken by the civil parties and witnesses from the delicate angle of the cultic aspect of these dramas and the way in which the deliberations proceeded and oriented the course of the Court’s decision in a particular direction.


The Court, that had been particularly conscientious in its work, had included in its judgement the components of the infringement i.e. the “participation in a criminal conspiracy created in order to plan several assassination crimes which effectively created a great number of victims in Canada, Switzerland and France. »


  • The criminal conspiracy existed:


The Court considered that “the various structures composing the Order of the Solar Temple could be considered, on analysis, to be part of an agreement or a grouping of people, the aforementioned grouping having hidden or secret structures on the inside and another facet destined for the public eye “. It is a “criminal conspiracy”.


  • Crimes had been perpetrated:


The Court considered that the crimes were evident, that they had been carried out by people who then killed themselves, whatever their sincerity in their belief, or by unidentified third parties who had not deceased (this is the belief of a certain number of the civil parties).


  • The crimes had been planned:


The Court considered that “the preparation of the crimes was not carried out by one person only, but required a concerted development both to gather the future victims in the different places where the crimes were committed as to carry out their material execution” (drugs, weapons, means for triggering arson, multiple meetings in the month which preceded the first massacres, texts established before the realisation of the crimes showing how the project had matured…).


This material set up had been accompanied by a psychological preparation which was evident from recorded dialogues in which the followers spoke with their leader about the conditions of the “transit”.


The Court then asked itself the central question in order to find out if Michel Tabachnik’s doctrinal teaching had played a role in the dramas.


  • Doctrinal teaching existed:


The Court retained that “members were insufflated doctrinal teachings” and that this teaching was to some extent the work of Michel Tabachnik, but it noted immediately after that according to testimonies of (old) followers, the latter “were not comprehensible and that they did not contain the concept of “transit “.


When we say “old” followers, the adjective “old” must be put between quotation marks as it appeared very clearly during their hearing before the Court that they were still under influence of the teachings and wished to protect the person who had delivered them. Curiously the Court was so subjugated by the weirdness of the witnesses’ individual experience, that it overlooked the written testimony by a past follower which had been submitted in the file.


The Doctrinal teachings were intended to condition the individuals:


The Court, progressing in its instruction, wondered if this teaching “was intended to condition the individuals, through the membership of an elite invested of a redeeming mission” and re-examined the expert Abgrall’s analysis (this work had been criticized in unacceptable terms by various speakers who shamelessly repeated the smear campaign launched by various cults against this expert in order to discredit him).


The Court wondered whether the writings of Michel Tabachnik “could have for object or simply for effect to prepare the followers to the announced transit”. The Court understood the term transit as meaning “accepted suicide”, but it would have been more justified to specify that it was about death under influence.


The Court recapitulated the 6 strong points of the teachings put forward by the expert:


the future of the planet is subjected to cosmic laws and its evolution is subjected to cycles

the earth is populated by individuals placed on this earth by cosmic entities from the blue star (Sirius) whose current appearance in human form is controlled by the Big White Lodge of Sirius

the Masters of this White Lodge communicate with great initiates who become incarnate or live in secret houses and distil initiatory teachings

Through these teachings the simple follower can reach the status of initiate

this initiation modifies the nature of the follower to create a new cosmic man, with modification of his body energy by increasing his rate of vibration and this is obtained through rituals and initiatory and religious practices

the earth is destined to suffer a final cataclysm from which only those initiated, unable to stop this cataclysm, will be able to escape by modifying the essence of their being through a transit to Sirius.


The Court retained the expert’s explanations on the importance of the symbolic system of fire which constitutes an element of reality.


The Court commented, following the expert, that the “teachings tend to become sufficiently convincing to make the most extreme ideas acceptable and integrates them within a wider whole which by its permanence ends up impregnating the subject entirely, including to make the intolerable acceptable… this acceptance being presented as a free and voluntary choice”.


However, if the Court considered all these points, it was unfortunately only to retain one oral comment made by the expert, according to whom, Tabachnik’s teachings were obscure. This toned down the influence of the teachings and finally the Court wrongly conclude that they could not have been understood by the followers since in any event those who had come to testify at the bar had insisted either that they had never read Michel Tabachnik’s writings or that they had not understood them, which was really unthinkable within an esoteric order such as the OST claimed to be.


  • The effect of this doctrinal teaching was to create the dynamics of homicide:


The Court once again examined the explanations of the expert Abgrall on the concept of “alchemical transmutation” and the presentation of the group (body) of followers as a transmutable mass of energy, which made it possible to understand how dematerialization allowed the connection with the “creative principle”, this, whilst illustrating this text by broad quotations borrowed from the text of the “ARCHÉES”[4] which fitted perfectly into the logic of the theoretical corpus of the OST.


Even a non-initiated person reading the extracts quoted by the Court would have understood them, so clear were they! However, against all expectations, the Court retained that Michel Tabachnik “always protested about this interpretation of his work”.


  • There was a final preparation characterized by

the organisation of meetings on 9 July and September 24, 1994 the purpose of which were

to announce that the group in its form of Order of the Solar Temple no longer existed and was transferred to the Rose Cross

the conclusion of the so-called mission with the objective of commissioning the crimes, with full knowledge of the facts, goals and projects of the group.


It was on these the last two items, discussed on page 65 and 66 of the judgement, that the Court showed its total misunderstanding of the OST project, in spite of a laudable sudden awareness of the role played by the teachings in the indoctrination of the followers and was thus brought to reach a major misinterpretation which culminated in the release of the accused.


But before re-examining the analysis of this last point, we have to make a detour behind the scenes of legal technicalities and try to clarify how the parasitic elements present on this dossier made difficult the perception by Justice of the cultic reality, in this file as in the others.


We will examine these “parasitic elements” under 4 perspectives


– parasitic elements inherent in the cult victim

– parasitic elements inherent in the cult case

– parasitic elements inherent in the question of the burden of proof

– parasitic elements inherent in the judge himself


Parasitic elements inherent in the cult victim


Concerning, on the one hand, the “follower” victim:


The charge of apostasy related to the follower defector paralysed the former follower.


This charge was effective insofar that although the follower had left the cult, the cult has not left him and he continued to obey cultic values, this the guru knew pertinently well. It is on this mechanism that the posthumous writings distributed by the OST were based mainly, reminding them that the Order had been forced to take the law into its own hands.


This charge of apostasy, which is part of the legal function of the cult and developed from its own internal laws, could have in the case of the OST gone as far as the physical execution of outgoing followers or of those who had revealed their experience to the media, and this according to a purely mafia type of logic, the law of the group in the cult having precedence on social law.


This physical elimination was also part of the terror which caused the follower to give false evidence before the Court, evidence which would however be considered, from the judge’s point of view, as having the value of free testimony. The follower’s testimony then becomes a testimony of combat. The OST lawsuit is a perfect illustration of this process which was ongoing without the judges’ understanding what had occurred and they were thus manipulated through their own legal logic and unable to thwart the mechanism. [5]


The apostate theory, developed by CESNUR, has the effect of considering the cultic dimension erroneously as part of the general pattern of religious logic and is presented as self-evident.


The traumatism of undue influence, furthermore, paralyses the former follower who finds it is impossible to face the memory of the period during which he was under the dependence of the guru and his doctrines and to accept the reality of his dimension of victim. If this paralysis had not existed, many complaints might have been introduced by other follower victims themselves of swindles on various levels and for example on behalf of the structure “Blue Planet”, a private school under influence of the OST.


This traumatism renders impossible the confrontation of the former follower with his manipulating guru, with the “invisible forces” in which he still believes and this traumatism prevents the former follower from behaving rationally. The former follower is literally afraid of reprisals, be they in objective reality or in the virtual reality of the world of occult forces.


Finally the former follower cannot face to be confronted with the brutality of questions asked by the members of the legal system as he remains very sensitive for a long time to come particularly when faced with the representatives of an authority that the cult (itself considered as the absolute authority) taught him to perceive as diabolical. A capital witness clearly refused to come and testify in the OST lawsuit for this reason, after having had to face, on a previous occasion, the head-on attacks (which are part and parcel of the legal game) from a lawyer.


Concerning also the victim “family” or the follower’s entourage:

The victim “entourage” of the follower can frequently show a negative interpretative behaviour, unable to accept the irrationality lived by the follower and not having obtained the support and relevant explanations which should have been accessible to them.


The OST case in particular suffered from interpretations which wanted to link the dramas to a more ordinary criminal logic by suggesting that the origin of the massacres was due to an obscure arms’ traffic or a hypothetical money laundering.


These interpretations carried by the families’ pressing claims, even when accompanied by related procedures could only distort the independence of judgment of legal professionals by putting pressure sometimes directly on the legal institution via cult activists. Pressure was even put by certain victims “families” on other families.


There was, at this level, a manifest deficiency in the assistance which should and is supposed to be given to the victims of such dramas immediately after the event as the assistance brought to the victims of catastrophes.


To assist cult victims, often psychologically deconstructed by the dramas experienced, needs plenty of time, empathy and continuity that the legal establishment may not always be able to provide.

Parasitic elements inherent in the cult case

Doctrinal material, is not sufficiently analysed (this was not particularly the case in OST file, in particular thanks to the competence of the expert Abgrall), but its irrational dimension is such that the judge has the greatest difficulties in accepting the real impact in the building up of the psychological constraint suffered by follower, which explains that the relevance of the expert’s analysis was questioned on several occasions in the decision and credit hastily granted to Michel Tabachnik’s absurd affirmation that “his writings were not aimed in any direction”. At this stage, we are on a level where the rational world is confronted by the precedence of an irrational world that remains wilfully hidden.


– the intimate writings of the “follower” victims, as far as they were concerned, were not taken into account whilst it is in this kind of writings that one can find the real trace of the influence of such or such teaching on the hallucinating construction of the follower. The OST case is no exception to this deduction since the Court returned the intimate writings of followers who died to certain families without having sought to read them whereas they carried the proof of the role played by one or the other of the leaders of the Order in the construction of the conviction of dependence or on the role played by one or other of the leaders, the follower victim, having been unable to destroy the evidence in these intimate writings in order to protect these persons.


– in the OST file, part of the elements was even removed by justice (smoking ruins destroyed by the bulldozer, exhibits destroyed …) in order to prevent that the dramas should be exploited by the media and specialists of the occult but thus opening the way to interpretations by the families.


– These kinds of cases refer all those who approach them to the magic dimension of the thoughts which they are carrying, to the irrational which characterises them, and this impact cannot be without consequence on the examination of the case whatever the professionals may think and say. One can even meet professionals who refuse to treat such cases fearing an alleged hidden power or occult retaliation.


– Even more extraordinary, in a kind of unconscious protection against the irrationality of the cultic contents, the judge will occult this essential dimension. To illustrate this and now attempt a reply concerning the about-turn of the Court which allowed it to release the author of “The Archées”, an essential part of OST teachings, by affirming that the latter had not imagine that “the final outcome of the supposed mission of the Order was an empowerment for the crimes to be committed, with full knowledge of the facts goals and projects of the group”. Without entering into details of the esoteric nonsense of “The Archées” let us say simply that the purpose of these teachings was to persuade the followers that “their own body was the matter of a voluntary process of alchemical transformation which began in the cells composing the physical body”.


The objective exposed along all the pages was to convince those unfortunate people that the purification of the body, its ventilation, its sublimation, was to be made starting from a certain level of “vibratory elevation” by having recourse to fire, no longer just a purifying element but also a regenerator so that by a group operation amalgamating the “fluidic emanations” of several followers, sufficient energy would be released to propel the hearts up to the Sirius star presented as the place where lived the “higher entities” whose knowledge had been transmitted for several years to the followers in “The Archées” thanks to the quality as medium of its author.


If one may say so, this process is clearly described in the teachings. It transits through physical death, which falls under a “life transformation process”, but in its ultimate phase it implies a transformation of the body so as to participate in themission to rescue humanity which must continue on Sirius presented as a new kind of “survival farm”.


It is true that the project was so mad, that when followers came forth to testify that they had not understood it or that they had not even been informed about it, it was easier for the Court to believe them than to follow the esoteric logic! Which is exactly what happened. And yet, at the same time, these (long standing) followers affirmed that they regretted not having been selected to participate in the transit to Sirius!


How can one believe that the person who actually described this event, with a great number of details and with scientific references, had not been informed of the final outcome of his plan?


There, there is a break in the event’s logic that only the comprehensible incapacity to analyse the irrational can explain.


Parasitic elements inherent in the question of the burden of proof


We have already said that a cult is driven by its own laws which are considered as above ordinary social law.

It is thus quite naturally that the follower will obey the superior rule and will not hesitate to lie or give false testimony in order to protect his cultic environment.

The difficulty lies in the fact that in the eyes of the law the testimony by a follower is considered as credible as that of an external witness.

The follower’s spontaneous reaction consists in eliminating material elements which are compromising for the cult.


Cultic black out on its internal laws and beliefs makes the discovery of evidence extremely difficult and testimony by people outside the cult practically unexploitable.

The obscure character of cultic writings renders them difficult to understand to the professional who is by assumption not a cult member.

Cults have a double face, double speech and show only the exoteric aspect of their group, by taking enormous measures to occult their esoteric facets from the outside world.


A lawyer is not trained to being confronted with such double faced manifestations, and we will now try to explain the parasitic elements inherent in the judge himself.


Parasitic elements inherent in the judge himself


The legal man (lawyer/magistrate) has the greatest difficulty to understand the mechanism of influence, this process by which an individual will submit his whole personality to the authority of a third party, in a non-voluntary, progressive way and by following practices justified by a doctrine, by an utopian project and by a mission.


The lawyer is trained to reason within the framework of the theory of contract which supposes an exchange of free and clear agreements. It is almost impossible for him to accept that another logic is operating, even in spite of an expert’s assistance.


To understand the reality of the cultic process, the lawyer must overstep the bounds of his intellectual and external knowledge of the case and must as far as possible understand the mechanisms used in the process of cultic influence which had been progressively and insidiously used.


This approach is all the more difficult as it goes against the requirements of deductive logic to which the lawyer must answer and according to which he was trained.

It is easier, when faced by the most absolute irrational thought and in the case of the Solar Temple faced by the most horrible irrational events, to hang onto something familiar rather than to try to penetrate the reality of the constraint and the judgment delivered in the OST case does exactly that.


There exists an abusive confusion between cult and religion in the mind of our contemporaries. It is not insignificant to see the Court, in its judgement, attach an importance to the passage entitled “former events” to the Templar’s story with the death on the stake in 1314 of Jacques de Molay, twenty second Grand Master of the Order of the Temple.


In a certain way, the Court thus finds itself on familiar ground that of history and that of religion, but it is not aware that in this manner it is entering into the hagiography of the OST and that without being aware of it is stepping straight in the cult’s tracks and in its manipulative logic.


Worse than that, the magistrate’s personal beliefs may interfere in the analysis of the case, as those present were alarmed to note when listening to the surrealist indictment of a prosecuting attorney who retained as element of guilt only that Tabachnik had betrayed the esoteric “Tradition” by writing the ritual whereas the ritual can only be inherited and cannot be created!



Let us now open the field of our consideration and leave the OST to approach another of the pitfalls which lies in wait of the judge when dealing with a cult case.


The magistrate is the guardian of freedoms.

It is at this stage that cults excel in misleading the law while wanting to make believe that they are victims and that their freedoms are in danger… in order to make people forget that they themselves excel as a menace to another’s freedom.


All the forms of freedoms can be declined to start with that of religion.

It is up to us to make justice understand, be it at national or European legal level, that the cult has nothing to do with the religious dimension but that it acts primarily in an archaic and undemocratic mode of power within a limited space.


If we cannot make this point of view triumph, we may find ourselves confronted with a long period of obscurantism which has never been seen in known history.


Our action is concerned with legal procedures and the lucid analyses of the processes of constraint.


This action can only be the result of a long training process of those professionals who are concerned, in one way or another, with cultic reality. This training effort should also concern associations which must tend towards becoming more professional for only then will they be able to accompany the victim, to anticipate misinterpretations usually made by legal institutions and to ultimately facilitate the understanding of what the cultic mechanism of influence which deprives the follower of all free will implies.


In the absence this, other Court decisions will continue to be made under influence.


[1] Ordre du Temple Solaire

[2] In 1979, Michel Tabachnik became a member of the community and it is only in 1981 that he would receive from the other followers, the essential mission of assimilating and translating into clear language the esoteric lesson of the “Masters of Sirius”, mission that placed him in the pre-eminent position of detaining knowledge alongside Di Mambro, in charge of the cult’s operation.


In 1982, he who will become the main salesman and recruiter of new followers enters the leading structure of the OST, bringing topics such as exoteric conferences, “soft” medicine, ecology and healthy life, the homeopathic doctor, Luc Jouret.


The electric shock caused in France by this drama was all the stronger that it preceded by a few days the deposit of the report of the famous parliamentary inquiry on cults which finally made it possible to take the cultist risk seriously.


One 5th and final OST drama was to take place one year later, in Canada, but curiously enough passed nearly unnoticed compared to the four others.



[3]After having been discharged through lack of evidence on an indictment of sequestration and another of assassination. A discharge was also pronounced against a doctor who had provided a certain number of drugs to the cult.

[4] Les ARCHEÉS – brochure written by Michel Tabachnik

[5]This process also occurs mainly in family disputes.