Rabat - A Swiss Court has acquitted Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan on charges of rape and sexual coercion due to lack of evidence incriminating him, AFP reported on Wednesday.
The Swiss canton of Geneva also awarded Ramadan around 151,000 Swiss francs (MAD 1.7 million) in compensation.
Upon hearing the verdict in the Geneva Criminal Court, the 60-year-old former Oxford University professor expressed his relief by smiling and receiving a hug from one of his daughters, added the news agency.
Meanwhile, the 57-year-old plaintiff, a Swiss woman known as "Brigitte" in the media to protect her identity, left the courtroom before the verdict ended. Her legal team immediately expressed their intention to appeal the ruling in protest of the court's decision.
During the trial, prosecutors sought a three-year sentence against the Muslim preacher. This was the first instance in which Ramadan faced trial for rape, although he could face a trial in France on similar charges.
The trial presented contrasting narratives regarding the events that occurred in a Geneva hotel room back in the evening of October 28, 2008. Brigitte's lawyer said that she was raped multiple times and endured "torture and barbarism."
Meanwhile, Ramadan denied the charges, maintaining that no sexual activity had taken place between him and Brigitte and arguing that he was the victim of a "trap."
The alleged assault occurred when Brigitte, a convert to Islam, was in her forties, but she filed a complaint a decade later, in April 2018. She accused the preacher of subjecting her to "brutal sexual acts, beatings, and insults," as well as raping her three times and engaging in sexual coercion "to the point of suffocation."
Brigitte told the court that she felt encouraged to come forward after similar complaints were filed against Ramadan in France.
Prior to the beginning of the trial, Brigitte's lawyer Francois Zimeray said that his defendant "expects a difficult, painful confrontation but she is ready for it, convinced that this fight is a duty for her as much as an ordeal."
It was established during the trial that Ramadan and Brigitte had spent the night together in the hotel room, after which she left early the following morning. Yet, the 60-year-old scholar insisted that Brigitte "invited herself up to his room, then let herself be kissed, before quickly ending the encounter," AFP reported.
Ramadan's legal team maintained his innocence throughout the trial, stressing the lack of scientific evidence supporting the allegations. In addition, they accused Brigitte and the women who have brought charges against him in France of orchestrating a joint effort to discredit the Islamic scholar, citing what they referred to as "Ramadanphobia."
In his final statements during the trial last week, Ramadan called on the judges not to base their decision on his "real or supposed ideology." He urged them to not be "influenced by the media and political noise." He added, "Forget I am Tariq Ramadan!"