Islamologist Tariq Ramadan was acquitted on Wednesday of the charge of rape and sexual coercion by a Geneva court which ruled that there was no evidence against him.
He will also receive approximately 151,000 Swiss francs (approximately C$226,500) in compensation from the State of Geneva.
The plaintiff immediately announced an appeal. Three years in prison, half of which was firm, was requested last week by the Geneva prosecutor.
At the announcement of the verdict, delivered in a room full of journalists, the Swiss preacher, 60, smiled and was hugged by one of his daughters. On the bench of the civil parties, the complainant, 57, left the room before the end of the reading of the verdict.
Tariq Ramadan was tried for the first time for rape, but he is threatened with a trial in France for similar facts.
His highly anticipated trial revealed two opposing versions of the facts.
Mr. Ramadan, a charismatic and contested figure in European Islam, denies any sexual act and claims to be the victim of a “trap”.
Converted to Islam, the complainant, “Brigitte”, who chose this pseudonym to protect herself from threats, however assures that the Islamologist subjected her to brutal sexual acts accompanied by beatings and insults in the room. of the Geneva hotel where he was staying the night of October 28, 2008.
During the three days of hearing, last week in Geneva, a screen separated them so that she did not have to see it.
“Brigitte” filed a complaint ten years after the facts, in 2018, encouraged, she explained, by the fact that other women did the same against Tariq Ramadan in France.
The two agree that they spent the night together in the hotel room, which she left early in the morning to return to her home.
Tariq Ramadan assures that it was she who invited herself into his room. He says he let himself be kissed before quickly ending the exchange. A version denied by “Brigitte”, who told during the hearing that she was “afraid of dying” under the blows of the Islamologist.
The Geneva prosecutor accused Tariq Ramadan of being guilty of “rape three times” in the same night and of “sexual coercion”. The plaintiff sought reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and compensation in the amount of 50,000 Swiss francs (CA$75,000) euros).
During the hearing, the defense tried to demonstrate the innocence of Tariq Ramadan by ensuring that there was no scientific evidence. His lawyers also accused “Brigitte” and the women who filed the complaint in France of having forged links with the aim of bringing down the Islamologist.
The plaintiff’s lawyers argued that she had consulted two psychiatrists in the days following the night of October 28, 2008 to tell them the facts and tell them about her state of stress.
She indicated during the investigation that she had met the Islamologist at a book signing a few months before the events, before seeing him again at a conference, then corresponding in an increasingly intimate tone on social networks.
Doctor of the University of Geneva, where he wrote a thesis on the founder of the Egyptian Islamist brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood who was his grandfather, Tariq Ramadan was professor of contemporary Islamic studies at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, and invited many universities in Morocco, Malaysia, Japan or Qatar.
In France, he is suspected of rape committed between 2009 and 2016 on four women, a case which triggered his fall in 2017.
The Paris prosecutor’s office requested in July his referral to an assize court and it is up to the investigating judges to order a trial or not. The French case earned him more than nine months in pre-trial detention in 2018.
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