GENEVA (AP) — A Swiss court on Wednesday acquitted noted Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan on charges of rape and “sexual constraint,” citing lack of material evidence more than a decade after the alleged actions, contradictory witness statements and what resembled love messages to the accused.
The court said it would pay Ramadan’s lawyers’ fees.
It was a first victory for the former Oxford scholar with a worldwide reputation who had a brutal fall from grace with similar accusations still pending in France.
Ramadan faces potential trial in France over allegations by several other women that emerged more than five years ago.
Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, was jailed in February 2018 in France and handed preliminary rape charges over two alleged assaults in France, one in 2009 and another in 2012. A third woman filed a rape complaint against him in March. He was released on bail nine months later.
The outspoken scholar has consistently denied any wrongdoing and filed a lawsuit saying the allegations were false.
In the Swiss case, the court noted that it didn’t pass judgment on Ramadan’s sexual practices or his morality. A statement said the plaintiff’s accusations weren’t corroborated by any material elements, including traces of sperm or blood. It also considered the “the numerous internet exchanges” between the Swiss plaintiff and several people implicated in the French case were “of a nature to influence” what she and witnesses told the court.
The court said that messages the plaintiff exchanged with Ramadan immediately after the acts in question and for weeks later appear more like “messages of love and, above all, make no mention” of her allegations during a night at a hotel.
“The court was not able to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” the statement said.