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CLEARWATER. Fla. (UPI) — The father of a young girl who was killed in 1971 aboard a ship owned by the Church of Scientology in Morocco said Friday he doesn't believe the church officials who told him his daughter committed suicide.
George Meister, testifying before the City Council, said he flew to Morocco and was shown a photograph of his bloodied daughter Susan and was told by church officials she had been found shot to death with a long-barreled .22-caliber pistol, a bullet wound in the forehead.
He said he was told she had been found with the gun on her chest, her two hands clutching it over her breast.
"How can anybody shoot themselves in the middle of the head and then clasp the gun against your breast and clasp your hands?"
He was tesifying in the third day of city council hearings into the operations of the controversial Church of Scientology, which now makes its base in Clearwater.
Church officials have accused the city of conducting a "witch hunt," but city officials said they hope to use the evidence gathered in the hearings for the basis of passing ordinances to force the church to reveal its financial records and to provide for penalties tor fraud and criminal activities.
Meister said he spent four days in Morocco but never was allowed to see his daughter's body. He said the Scientologists told him they had ordered her brain and intestines removed to determine if she had taken drugs.
He said he returned home to Colorado and after months of bickering over the return oft the body, her remains were disinterred and shipped home in December 1971.
He said a church official, offered him money as a settlement but said he refused to talk to him because "If her death was a suicide, why are they making this settlement?"
Meister said he and his wife then began to receive anonymous calls.
"I've been told, 'You're going to get the same thing your daughter got,'" he said.
Meister said his daughter joined the Church of Scientology in 1970 and appeared happy when she visited over the Christmas season that year. But he said after returning to San Francisco she became more involved in the church and then went to Morocco with the church.
He told the council members he still is trying to find out what really happened to his daughter and said he is concerned with warning other people about the church.