Tariq Ramadan cleared in Swiss sexual assault case

No evidence found against the former University of Oxford professor, court rules

Former University of Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan leaves Geneva after being acquitted at the end of his trial for rape and sexual coercion in a case dating back 15 years. AFP
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Former University of Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan has been cleared of charges of rape and sexual assault by a court in Switzerland.

The court found no evidence against the Swiss citizen in a ruling announced on Wednesday.

He was awarded about 151,000 Swiss francs ($167,000) in compensation from the Swiss canton of Geneva over the case.

After the verdict was read in the Geneva Criminal Court, the 60-year-old smiled and was hugged by one of his daughters.

Lawyers for Mr Ramadan's 57-year-old accuser immediately declared their intention to appeal against the verdict.

Mr Ramadan, 60, was accused of attacking a Swiss woman in a Geneva hotel after meeting her at a book signing.

He said she invited him for a coffee, and then invited herself to his hotel room, having sent him a string of messages.

The Swiss scholar, who is the grandson of Hassan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, previously told the court in Geneva that he let himself be kissed by his accuser but denied there were any sexual relations between them.

The woman, who is known under the assumed name of Brigitte to protect her identity, was in her forties at the time of the alleged attack on October 28, 2008.

During his final statements in court last week, Mr Ramadan asked not to be tried on his "real or supposed ideology" and urged the judges not to be "influenced by the media and political noise".

"Forget I'm Tariq Ramadan," he said.

Prosecutors had called for a three-year sentence against him.

The case was the first time he has been tried for rape, although he may yet face a trial in France on similar charges.

Mr Ramadan, controversial among secularists who see him as a supporter of political Islam, obtained his doctorate from the University of Geneva, with his thesis focused on his grandfather.

He was a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University in the UK until November 2017, and held visiting roles at universities in Qatar and Morocco.

Mr Ramadan was forced to take a leave of absence when sexual assault allegations were made against him in France at the height of the “Me Too” movement. The assaults were alleged to have taken place between 2009 and 2016.

Brigitte filed a complaint with the Geneva courts in April 2018.

The Swiss investigation moved slowly because Mr Ramadan was initially in pre-trial detention in Paris and could not be questioned by the Swiss authorities.

After he was released in November 2018, he was put on probation and barred from leaving France.

However, he was given leave to cross the border into Switzerland for the Geneva trial.

Updated: May 24, 2023, 11:55 AM