Erika Bertschinger-Eicke, better known as Uriella, has died aged 90. The convicted fraudster founded the Fiat Lux sect, which in the 1990s counted around 700 members in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
Zurich-born Uriella claimed she developed a sixth sense and clairvoyance after a concussion caused by a horse-riding accident in 1973. In 1980 she founded Fiat Lux just across the border in Germany and claimed to be God’s mouthpiece on Earth, frequently predicting the end of the world. Fiat Lux acolytes would be saved by UFOs, she guaranteed.
She was equally unsuccessful in predicting legal woes, fines and convictions. In 2000, a court ordered her to return more than CHF600,000 ($600,000) to a former member who 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.
Uriella, well-known in German-speaking Switzerland but little-known outside it, already had a criminal record dating back to 1994, when she was fined CHF15,000 for breaching medicine legislation. In 1998, a German court gave her a 22-month suspended jail sentence and a CHF80,000 fine for smuggling medicines, fraud and tax evasion, according to the Swiss News Agency.
Fiat Lux today has only a few members, the news agency added.