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Damages claims brought against doomsday cult leader

Uriella, the Swiss leader of the doomsday cult "Fiat Lux", is on trial again. A court in canton Appenzell-Ausserrhoden is hearing a claim by a former follower that the cult cheated her out of her entire assets totalling more than SFr600,000.

Uriella, the Swiss leader of the doomsday cult "Fiat Lux", is on trial again. A court in canton Appenzell-Ausserrhoden is hearing a claim by a former follower that the cult cheated her out of her entire assets totalling more than SFr600,000.

The 59 year-old woman from Zurich, who had been a member of "Fiat Lux" for 10 years, claims she had been duped into handing over the money because Uriella had warned members that they would die in the apocalypse if they refused. Uriella, whose real name is Erika Bertschinger, has predicted the end of the world on several occasions.

Her husband Icordo is acting in her defence. He has said the claimant handed over the money in the form of an interest-free loan, not due for repayment before 2006.

"Fiat Lux" is based in the German town of Ibach. The 71 year-old Uriella 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 francs fine for smuggling medications.

swissinfo with agencies



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