Suspicions of rape in a yoga sect: 15 people indicted, 6 imprisoned, including the guru

by time news

2023-12-03 00:17:08

A Romanian-Swedish guru and 14 people were indicted on Friday evening in Paris, suspected of being involved in large-scale sexual violence within an international yoga movement accused of sectarian excesses, a judicial source said on Saturday .

Of the 15 suspects, six were imprisoned, including the guru: Gregorian Bivolaru, 71, founding figure of the Movement for Spiritual Integration towards the Absolute (Misa), renamed Atman, which claims to be focused on the practice of tantric yoga . The dragnet took place on Tuesday in the Paris region and in the south-east of France. Pavilions – where many women were housed – or even yoga rooms located on the street, were searched.

Gregorian Bivolaru was arrested at his home in Val-de-Marne. Already convicted several times in Romania, he denounced a “political plot” during his custody, according to a police source. He defended himself against accusations of rape, explaining that he was “a spiritual master”: after a so-called “consecration” stage, women “loved” him at his home.

On Friday, he was indicted for four offenses: aggravated rape (in conjunction with several other rapes committed against other victims), kidnapping by an organized gang, human trafficking by an organized gang, abuse of weakness by a leader of a group pursuing activities creating, maintaining or exploiting the psychological or physical subjection of the participants. His lawyer Anis Harabi assured that “his innocence” would be “established”. Five other people were imprisoned.

Nine suspects released

Like the Romanian-Swede, the owner of two “women’s lodges” was indicted for abuse of weakness, trafficking in human beings and kidnapping by an organized gang. Accused of being the guru’s “right arm”, this man was also indicted for complicity in aggravated rape. A 41-year-old Romanian, doctoral student in linguistics, was indicted for complicity in aggravated rape, human trafficking and kidnapping by an organized gang.

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The same goes for another man, arrested at Gregorian Bivolaru in the presence of two young Romanian women. While in police custody, he presented himself as “a simple yoga student” and denied having taken these women to the guru, the police source reported. Finally, two other women were imprisoned, after being indicted for human trafficking and kidnapping, all in an organized gang.

Among those released under judicial supervision are nine suspects. Eight were indicted for human trafficking and kidnapping, still in an organized gang. Among them, several alleged drivers, accused in particular of having transported women from the airport to Misa establishments. The ninth suspect is a woman, following Misa courses for seven years, indicted for the same charges, but also for complicity in aggravated rape.

According to the police source, this woman explained, while in police custody, that she was housed in an apartment and received money to participate in the editing of an erotic film project “with people urinating”. Still from the same source, she recognized certain rules of Misa: not going out alone for women or the confiscation of their phones.

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