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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Rape-accused Tariq Ramadan loses bid for early release ahead of trial

The Oxford University professor is in detention in France over several rape allegations

Tariq Ramadan has denied all the allegations against him and claims they are part of a campaign by his enemies to ruin his name. (AFP)
Tariq Ramadan has denied all the allegations against him and claims they are part of a campaign by his enemies to ruin his name. (AFP)

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who has been detained in France over rape allegations since early February, has lost his bid for early release ahead of his trial, his lawyer said.

Mr Ramadan, an Oxford University professor whose grandfather founded Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement, was already refused bail on medical grounds after his lawyers argued that he is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

On Monday, his lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny told the AFP news agency that another bid had been denied. "We were informed of the decision today and I immediately lodged an appeal," he said, calling the decision "incredible".

The 55-year-old was taken into custody on February 2 over charges he raped several women.

To date, five women have accused him of rape – three in France, one in America and one in Switzerland.

Mr Ramadan has denied all the allegations against him and claims they are part of a campaign by his enemies to ruin his name.

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

In early March, 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.

The fourth complainant, a Swiss woman, filed criminal charges against Mr Ramadan in April, alleging he raped her and held her against her will for several hours in a Geneva hotel room a decade ago.

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

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

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.

"Prosecutors, the investigating magistrate and the liberty and custody judge are refusing to take into account the elements that support his case," Mr Marsigny said, again denouncing what he called "lies" by Mr Ramadan's accusers.

"This decision shows the lack of impartiality by all the legal representatives - police and judges - involved in this case," he said.

Investigating magistrates are expected to soon question Mr Ramadan's first accuser, Henda Ayari, 41, a feminist activist who previously practised a conservative strain of Islam.