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Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan acquitted in Swiss rape trial

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan acquitted in Swiss rape trial

GENEVA: A Swiss court on Wednesday found Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan not guilty of rape and sexual coercion in a Geneva hotel 15 years ago, with his accuser immediately indicating she would appeal.

The court also decided to compensate the former Oxford University professor for his legal costs, awarding him up to 151,000 Swiss francs ($167,000), but rejecting his claim for moral damages.

“The accused must have the benefit of the doubt,” Yves Maurer-Cecchini, the president of the Geneva Criminal Court, said, citing a lack of evidence, contradictory testimonies and “love messages” sent by the plaintiff after the alleged assault.

“Tariq Ramadan must be acquitted.” Following the verdict, the 60-year-old Swiss academic — a charismatic yet controversial figure in European Islam — smiled and hugged one of his daughters.

Ramadan’s 57-year-old accuser — identified only under the assumed name of “Brigitte” due to her concerns for her safety — left the courtroom before the end of the verdict was read out. Her lawyers said they would appeal against the ruling.

“This deeply unfair decision is the reflection of a caricatural hearing from which dignity was absent and where the word of my client was neither heard nor respected,” lawyer Francois Zimeray said. Ramadan left the court surrounded by his relatives, smiling but without commenting. “It is a verdict inspired by reason,” said his Swiss lawyer Yael Hayat.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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