By Vivien Schweitzer
From PlaybillArts.com - 21 Dec 2006
Swiss conductor Michel Tabachnik, 64, was acquitted for the second time yesterday of his alleged role in the mass suicides of members of a doomsday cult in the mid-1990s, report the Canadian Press and Associated Press.A French appeals court in Grenoble upheld Tabachnik's 2001 acquittal by a lower court; the new trial reportedly produced no new evidence that Tabachnik was involved in killings perpetrated by the Switzerland-based Order of the Solar Temple cult.
Prosecutor Jean-Pierre Melendez did not request a prison term, citing "the difficulty in getting to the truth of Michel Tabachnik," according to the CP.
The Order of the Solar Temple lost 68 members in mass suicides in Switzerland, Canada and France between 1994 and 1995. In one incident fourteen members of the cult were found burnt and lying in a star formation in the French Alps.
Tabachnik, who studied with Pierre Boulez and Iannis Xenakis, was accused of supporting the cult's founder and leader, Joseph di Mambo, who died in a 1994 mass suicide. He was also accused of inciting the deaths in his writings for the cult, but according to the BBC, Tabachnik's lawyer argued that the drafts were "esoteric ramblings" that could not have inspired violence.
Di Mambo founded the cult in the 1980s and pursued wealthy followers, persuading them to part with their money in return for the chance to join a small elite who would be reborn on a star called Sirius. They would only reach Sirius by ritualized suicide.
Tabachnik called the trials a "nightmare," adding that "It has taken 11 years of slander, humiliations and disgrace for the French courts to finally give me justice," according to the AP.