Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan was charged with rape on Friday and jailed in Paris after two days in police custody, a judicial source said, according to AFP.
French authorities say Ramadan is being investigated for allegedly raping two women and could be held in long-term custody while the probe continues.
According to an AP report, a judicial official said the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a formal inquiry on Friday based on complaints against Ramadan the women filed last year. Ramadan has been in custody for questioning in Paris since Wednesday.
After two days of questioning by investigators, the 55-year-old Oxford professor was brought before three magistrates who have been assigned to the case, suggesting that he is facing an extensive investigation, judicial sources said.
The official says Ramadan could be handed preliminary charges of rape in one case, relating to a 2009 incident, and rape of a vulnerable person in the second case, involving an incident in 2012.
The judicial official was not authorized to be publicly named and requested anonymity.
The prosecutor’s office is asking judges to keep Ramadan in custody, likely because of concerns he could leave the country.
Ramadan, who is Swiss, strongly denies wrongdoing and has filed his own suit for false allegations. He is on leave from Oxford University, where he is a professor of contemporary Islamic studies.
Full, open-ended investigation
Friday’s announcement by French authorities turned the preliminary inquiry into a full, open-ended investigation where French magistrates stated goal is to establish whether Ramadan should stand trial.
In France, the launch of a full investigation implies that initial findings justify further pursuit in the view of the investigating magistrates but does not mean the matter is sure to go to trial.
Ramadan is a grandson of Hasan al-Banna, an Islamist thinker and activist who founded the Muslim Brotherhood. He enjoys a substantial following among young Muslims and has challenged French restrictions on wearing veils.
Ramadan, who travels frequently and has written numerous books on Islam and the integration of Muslims in Europe, is being investigated by French authorities because the rapes are alleged to have taken place in Paris and Lyon.
Earlier, French police were granted another 48 hours to question the 55-year-old Islamic Studies Professor at Oxford, and had been handed over to Paris Prosecution department, news reports had revealed.
The British Express newspaper, quoting a judicial source, confirmed on Thursday that Prof Ramadan’s custody had been extended for a further 48 hours in order to give Paris police more time to question the suspect.
Following this period, he should either be freed, formally charged, or made an “assistant witness”, meaning police do not believe he committed an offence, the report revealed.
The report said that Prof Ramadan took a leave of absence from Oxford after the allegations came to light but has vehemently denied raping the two women. He has also filed a complaint for slander against feminist author and former Salafist Henda Ayari, who happens to be one of his accusers.
According to the report, Ayari said the sex scandal involving Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had encouraged her to “name and shame” her alleged abuser and file an official complaint with police.
Ramadan is the most high-profile figure to be held in France over the sexual assault and harassment claims that have rippled around the world as a result of the “Me Too” campaign.
Another woman who has claimed that she was raped by Ramadan said that they met at a bar in Lyon where he told her that a Maghrebi person - who worked at the reception - knew him.
He invited the woman to his room where she claimed that he slapped and then raped her twice. According to Le Monde newspaper, the woman also claims that she has a mark to prove her version of events. According to her version of the story, she escaped from the room next morning.