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France

Opus Dei members face Paris court over slavery charges

Two members of the conservative Catholic organisation Opus Dei went on trial in Paris on Thursday, accused of treating a disciple as a "brainwashed slave". The trial is expected to bring the activities of the sect, known to many thanks to the Da Vinci code book and film, into the open.

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Plaintiff Catherine Tissier says she was forced to work as a servant for the group for virtually no pay.

She says worked 14-hour days, seven days a week, cleaning and serving.

Spate of high-profile trials in France

The case brought against Opus Dei in Paris follows a nine-year investigation into the organisation's practices.

The head of a school and the head of a religious retreat north of Paris are the defendants in the case.

Tissier joined the school in 1985, aged only 14, and says she was forced to take her vows and was subject to brainwashing

The defendants deny her accusations and insist she was adequately paid for her work.

Opus Dei has some 85,000 members worldwide and, while it has the backing of the Catholic church, critics believe it is a secretive, manipulative conspiracy.

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