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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

New evidence in rape case undermines Tariq Ramadan’s alibi

The Oxford University professor was detained on February 2 over charges that he raped two women in France

New evidence has bought Mr Ramadan's alibi into question
New evidence has bought Mr Ramadan's alibi into question

Tariq Ramadan’s alibi that he was on a plane at the time a woman accused him of rape in France in 2009 has been challenged by the organisers of the event he attended on the same day.

Lawyers for the prominent Islamic scholar, who has been detained in France since early February, had previously produced an airline ticket which appeared to show he only landed in the southeastern city of Lyon at 6:35pm on October 9, 2009. This would have undermined the claim by a woman known as Christelle, who said she was raped by Mr Ramadan at a hotel in Lyon “in the afternoon”.

However, Yassine Djemal from the Union of Young Muslims, which organised the conference scheduled for the evening of October 9, told investigators that Mr Ramadan in fact arrived much earlier that day.

“Mr Ramadan was scheduled to arrive in Lyon on October 9, 2009 at 11:15am. A colleague and I picked him up at the airport at around 11:35,” Mr Djemal said, according to AFP.

Mr Djemal also said that he had taken Mr Ramadan to the Hilton hotel, which is where the woman said the incident took place.

Mr Ramadan, an Oxford University professor whose grandfather founded Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement, was detained on February 2 over charges he raped two women in France.

His two initial accusers went to police in late October, both alleging that he had raped them in French hotel rooms.

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Christelle, who was the second complainant to come forward, is reported to have disability in her legs. According to Christelle’s deposition to the Paris prosecutor, he subjected her to brutal and violent sexual and physical attacks after she made contact with him by social media and arranged to meet him in Lyon.

Two weeks ago, a third woman came forward to accuse Mr Ramadan of rape. The French Muslim woman, who wants to remain anonymous and uses the pseudonym "Marie", claims to have suffered multiple rapes in France, Brussels and London between 2013 and 2014.

A complaint has also recently emerged in the US, according to French media. French newspaper Libération reported that a woman in Washington, US, has accused Mr Ramadan of sexually assaulting her in an incident dating back to 2013.

Mr Ramadan, who denies all the claims, remains in custody in Fleury-Mérogis prison, Essonne, as French authorities judge him a flight risk.

A court dismissed a bid by his lawyers last month to have him released on health grounds.

A professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford, Mr Ramadan has been on leave since November after the allegations emerged.

One of European Islam's best-known figures, he has dismissed the accusations against him as a smear campaign by his enemies and his lawyers argue there are inconsistencies in the women's accounts.