Lawyers of Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan are fighting to save their client from prosecution over criminal rape and assault charges by two women. Their legal modus operandi seems to be to sow doubts about the testimony of the women, especially the woman given the pseudonym of ‘Christelle’ and whose identity is protected.
The judge of liberty and detention (JLD), however, was not convinced to release Ramadan on Tuesday (February 6), according to Le Monde.
The scholar, who is an Oxford professor on leave of absence since the case came out in the open, and a British resident with Swiss and Egyptian passports, remains in jail. The legal scrutiny will continue under three judges because of the complexity of the case.
The court file maintains that this detention of the prime accused will help relieve pressure on witnesses. Ramadan and his circle of relatives and followers, have tremendous clout. Investigators feel that his being behind the bars will convince others who have undergone similar experience to come forward, in the wake of the rape complaints filed by Henda Ayari and “Christelle”.
SEE ALSO: Graphic testimony in Paris court by Tariq Ramadan’s second victim
Ramadan’s lawyers will focus on challenging the three-month probe by the judicial police and attempt to sow doubt on the two complainants.
Also, even before appealing their client’s detention, the lawyers asked the Minister of Justice to refer to the Inspectorate General of Justice (IGJ), claiming that procedural errors were damaging to Ramadan.
The main point of contention, according to a report in Le Parisien, was regarding a reservation for a London-Lyon flight ticket, which proves that on October 9, 2009, the day “Christelle” claims to have been raped, Ramadan did not land at the Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport at 6:35 pm. This document produced by the defense before Christmas was not made available to the investigators until February 1, the day before Ramadan was indicted.
SEE ALSO: Oxford University puts Tariq Ramadan on leave amid rape, sex abuse scandals
Will that be enough of an alibi and punch holes into the testimony by “Christelle” who has been rather unsure about when the alleged attack happened, having reportedly told investigators: “In the afternoon,” “it was still daylight”.
If the accused Ramadan had landed at 6:35 pm, Tariq Ramadan could have reached the Hilton hotel in the center of Lyon, at best after 7:30pm.
The organizers of the Lyon conference “Living together, Islamophobia and Palestine” where 700 people were attending his lecture, had told the police that the scholar was late and had arrived “around 9 pm" which would have left him free time.
So Ramadan’s alibi about the timing of his flight turns out to be rather flimsy. The magistrates, however, have sent requisitions for checking the time of his arrival in Lyon.
Ramadan denied raping or having sexual intercourse with “Christelle”.
His accuser on the other hand gave proof regarding a groin scar on Ramadan and also many SMS from Tariq Ramadan’s number, including the crucial one on October 10 at 19:29 - the day after the alleged assault - saying sorry for the violence, and also asking: “Do you want more? Not disappointed?”
“Christelle” said that she had narrated her experience to her friends and presented messages establishing the fact. Her friends in turn had expressed their shock during their replies.
She also presented medical certificates from a few days after the fateful meeting in Lyon with Ramadan.
But having taken place nine years ago, will these be clinching evidence for the judges, is the moot question. Or is it just her word against the reputed scholar’s?