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Swiss public prosecutor calls for Tariq Ramadan to be jailed for rape

Tariq Ramadan and a lawyer leaves the Geneva criminal court of appeals
The public prosecutor and plaintiff's lawyers called witnesses and presented their case at the criminal court of appeals in Geneva. Keystone / Valentin Flauraud

The Geneva public prosecutor's office on Tuesday demanded a three-year prison sentence for Tariq Ramadan, 18 months of which would be mandatory, in an appeal trial. It believes the Islamic scholar is guilty of raping a woman in a hotel room in Geneva in October 2008.

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According to the main prosecutor, Adrian Holloway, the 58-year-old plaintiff’s testimony was very consistent throughout the proceedings. Her account, in contrast to Ramadan’s, proved to be credible and detailed, said the representative of the public prosecutor’s office.

Certainly, there were affectionate messages that the plaintiff had sent to the Islamic scholar after the crime, he said. In his opinion, however, these words were proof of the power that Ramadan had gained over his victim after the night with him.

Holloway judged Ramadan’s “misbehaviour” to be “serious”. The Islamic scholar had used the aura he had on this woman to abuse her, treat her like an object, beat her without restraint, with the sole aim of satisfying his sexual desire, the prosecutor continued, speaking of “an offence bordering on aggravated rape”.

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No doubts about the offence

There are only two possible versions in this case, said Robert Assaël, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, at the beginning of his statements. “Either the victim suffered a horrific rape, or she is lying,” he declared. For the lawyer, there is no doubt that the plaintiff was brutally attacked that night in October 2008.

The lawyer bases his certainty on the numerous details provided by his client. For example, there was the ironing board that was mounted in the hotel room, or certain lewd remarks that the Islamic scholar is said to have made to his victim, he said.

Witnesses summoned

On Tuesday morning, the criminal appeals court heard several witnesses. Among them was a show producer who testified at the request of the plaintiff. Between 2006 and 2016, this man of Senegalese origin attended to the controversial French comedian, Dieudonné, among others, when he performed in French-speaking Switzerland.

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This witness is suspected of having sent an anonymous letter that reached the Geneva judiciary shortly before the trial against Ramadan in May 2023. The letter stated that the plaintiff had told Dieudonné about a “one-night stand” with Ramadan.

The producer then denied being the author of this letter. He claimed to know the woman. She had come into the dressing rooms at the end of the performances and helped with organising the show, he explained. “As for her relationship with Ramadan, I think she was dating him or something,” he said.

Plaintiff defends herself

When the plaintiff took the stand, she rebuked the statements made by the producer. “I never told anyone that I went out with Tariq Ramadan,” she stressed, referring to a complaint pending before the Geneva courts.

Her lawyer, Robert Assaël, called on the court to disregard the show producer’s statement. This man was lying when he claimed not to be the author of the anonymous letter. Moreover, it is impossible to know the deeper motives that prompted him to make these late revelations.

In the first trial, the public prosecutor, Adrian Holloway, had demanded the same sentence for the Islamic scholar, namely a three-year prison sentence, half of which was to be suspended. The criminal court of Geneva acquitted Ramandan in May last year.

Ramadan has always maintained his innocence, claiming never to have had a sexual relationship with the woman. The trial will continue on Wednesday.

Adapted from German by DeepL/dkk/sb

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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