“Acquittal” was the one word the Swiss plaintiff, RAD, never wanted to hear. Obviously distressed, she left the courtroom on Wednesday, May 24, as soon as Judge Yves Maurer-Cecchini said, “The court has not been able to arrive at any shared conviction beyond insurmountable doubt.” Tariq Ramadan smiled slightly in the direction of his lawyers before settling down, his back straight, on his bench. Once the judgment was handed down, he joined his wife and children who were waiting for him in the courtyard of the Geneva courthouse, relieved and in tears.
Before announcing the reasons that led him to acquit Ramadan on charges of ‘rape’ and ‘sexual coercion,’ the judge made a point of specifying that it was not for the court “to pronounce, in a general way, on the sexual practices and morality” of the defendant, “nor on current societal movements,” but “only to judge the defendant on the basis of the file of the procedure and the indictment.”
The court noted that the plaintiff’s account was “generally consistent and detailed, even if it was peppered with certain contradictions.” “While there is no doubt that the complainant had a bad experience that evening,” it continued, her account was “not corroborated by any material evidence, such as traces of semen or blood, video surveillance images of the hotel or findings of traumatic injuries .” The jury also emphasized that the statements made in the proceedings “were indirect testimonies, which moreover were taken almost 10 years after the events,” which, according to them, present a “high risk of confusion and alteration linked not only to the passage of time but also to the significant media coverage of the case, particularly because of the French proceedings opened for rape against the defendant.”
Among the elements that support the doubt in favor of Ramadan, the judge mentioned “the numerous internet exchanges between the Swiss plaintiff and several people involved in the French procedure,” considering that they were “likely to influence” both the story of RAD, as well as those of the witnesses heard during the investigation. The judge believed that “the sustained activity” of the plaintiff on social media, including a blog entitled “Va, cours, vole et nous venge” (“Go, run, steal and avenge us”), showed “a certain desire to bring down Tariq Ramadan but there is no mention of rape and sexual coercion.”
‘Contradictory’ psychiatrists’ notes
The judge also dismissed what, in the eyes of prosecutor Adrian Holloway, constituted “the center of gravity” of the case on the credibility of the plaintiff’s accusations, namely the notes taken by the two psychiatrists consulted in the days and weeks following her meeting with Ramadan at the Mon Repos hotel in Geneva on the night of October 27, 2008. He considered them to be insufficient because they were “contradictory.”
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