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Cult leader to pay back former follower

A court in canton Appenzell-Ausserrhoden has ordered Uriella, the Swiss leader of the doomsday cult "Fiat Lux" and self-appointed healer, to return more than SFr600,000 to a former member.

A court in canton Appenzell-Ausserrhoden has ordered Uriella, the Swiss leader of the doomsday cult "Fiat Lux" and self-appointed healer, to return more than SFr600,000 to a former member.

The 59 year-old woman from Zurich, who had been a member of "Fiat Lux" for 10 years, claimed she had been duped into handing over the money because Uriella had warned members that they would die in the apocalypse if they refused.

The court ruled that the foundation of trust between the claimant and "Fiat Lux", had been broken even though the money was given to the cult in the form of a series of loans not due for repayment before 2006.

Seventy-one-year old Uriella, whose real name is Erika Bertschinger, rejected the accusations and said she would appeal against the sentence.

Uriella runs "Fiat Lux" from the German town of Ibach. She also owns a homeopathic practice in Schwellbrunn in canton Aargau.

She already has a criminal record dating back to 1994, when she was fined SFr15,000 for breaching medications' legislation. Two years ago, a court in the German city of Mannheim gave her a 22-month suspended jail sentence and a SFr 80,000 fine for smuggling medications.

swissinfo with agencies


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