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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Tariq Ramadan to face prosecutor over alleged rape of Swiss woman

The Oxford scholar will be questioned by Swiss authorities in the presence of a second accuser

Swiss Islamologist Tariq Ramadan. AFP 
Swiss Islamologist Tariq Ramadan. AFP 

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan will face Swiss prosecutors on Tuesday as part of an ongoing formal inquiry into rape and sexual misconduct allegations opened by local authorities in Geneva.

A Swiss woman – who converted to Islam in her youth and was 44 at the time of events – lodged a complaint in April claiming she was raped by the Oxford scholar in a hotel room in Geneva in 2008. Prosecutors have found the evidence to be satisfactory and are conducting a formal investigation into the allegations.

Mr Ramadan, who has been in custody in France since February on separate rape charges, will be questioned in the presence of a second accuser, a disabled woman identified as “Christelle”, who claims to have been raped and beaten in a hotel room in the French city of Lyon in 2009.

The confrontation between “Christelle” and Mr Ramadan had been scheduled for July 18 but was later postponed due to the health of the plaintiff.

“My client is determined [to speak], especially after being accused of avoiding confrontation in July,” Mr Eric Morain, the woman’s lawyer, told Swiss media.

Mr Ramadan previously admitted to having played a “seduction game” with his accuser and to having spent 20 to 30 minutes with her in the hotel room on 10 October 2009 – when the woman claims to have been sexually assaulted.

The accusations filed in Switzerland add to those of French feminist and activist Henda Ayari and the woman named as “Christelle”. Claims filed by a third plaintiff, a woman known for taking part in orgies with former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Khan, have been dismissed.

Ms Ayari was the first woman to accuse Mr Ramadan – who, being the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Bannah, enjoys a wide network of followers and admirers.

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Read more:

Tariq Ramadan charged in Switzerland over rape allegations

Tariq Ramadan accuser says academic must 'recognise the truth'

Rape-accused Tariq Ramadan appears before judges in Paris

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

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An international campaign portraying Mr Ramadan as the victim of a failure of due process emerged to counter Mr Ayari’s allegations.

Some of the evidence in support of Mr Ramadan’s innocence, however, has recently been discredited. A 44-year-old former customs officer had put Ms Ayari’s integrity into question by claiming she had threatened to file a rape complaint if he refused to have further sexual encounters.

The man has recently been condemned to 10 months in prison for forgery and is set to respond to separate charges of rape, extortion and illicit appropriation of funds in 2019.

Mr Ramadan’s brother, Bilal, also weighed in with an appeal to Swiss Confederation President Alain Berset on Monday. In a letter signed by 250 of Mr Ramadan’s supporters, Mr Berset was asked to “intervene in favour of Tariq Ramadan” – who holds Swiss nationality – vis-à-vis the French authorities that have him in custody.

The signatories, who include some notable names among the Swiss political ranks, denounced the conditions of his incarceration and argued for Mr Ramadan to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Mr Ramadan has denied all charges, arguing the relations were fully consensual. His wife, Iman Ramadan, continues to support him and to claim he is the victim of a smear campaign.