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Opus Dei pair on trial in France

Two followers of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei are going on trial in Paris accused of forcing a disciple to work for more than a decade with little or no pay.

The trial is expected to shine a spotlight on the secretive group's practices.

It comes after legal complaints filed by Catherine Tissier, who was 14 when she joined the Donson hotel school in eastern France, where the religious sacraments were led by Opus Dei.

Under the guidance of what she calls a "spiritual director", she gradually chose to follow Opus Dei's spiritual path and began working as a "numerary assistant".

"I was working from seven o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock in the evening every day, seven days a week. The three weeks of holidays we had were spent with Opus Dei where they taught us theology and pursued in-depth studies on the spirit of the (Opus Dei) founder," Ms Tissier said.

She said she never saw the money owed to her.

When she was diagnosed with depression, a doctor, who she said was an Opus Dei follower, put her on medication.

"I wasn't able to eat by myself, I couldn't even wash by myself, my head was hard to keep straight. Regardless of that, I still had the same workload in the Donson school," she said.

At age 29, she weighed just 39 kilos (86 lbs). During a weekend visit to her parents' home, they took her to see their family doctor, who said she should not go back.

Beatrice de la Coste, spokeswoman for Opus Dei in France, said: "Catherine Tissier was an employee at the hotel school, she was of course in contact with Opus Dei and she chose that spiritual path."

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