Rape suspect Tariq Ramadan loses bid for release ahead of trial

Swiss Islamologist Tariq Ramadan, who has been in prison since Feb. 2018 on charges of rape. (Mehdi Fedouach / AFP)
Updated 08 May 2018
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Rape suspect Tariq Ramadan loses bid for release ahead of trial

  • Judges had already refused bail for the 55-year-old Ramadan, who is being treated behind bars for multiple sclerosis
  • Ramadan faces a series of allegations from women claiming he raped them

PARIS: The Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who is being held in France over rape allegations by three women, has lost his bid for early release ahead of trial, his lawyer told AFP.
Judges had already refused bail for the 55-year-old Ramadan, who is being treated behind bars for multiple sclerosis, as well as a request for release on health grounds.
“We were informed of the decision today and I immediately lodged an appeal,” his lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny said late Monday, calling the decision “incredible.”
The prominent TV pundit and Oxford University professor, whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, has been held since February on charges that he raped two Muslim women in France.
In early March, a third woman came forward claiming Ramadan had raped her in Brussels in 2013 and 2014, accusing him of subjecting her to violent and sexually degrading acts during a dozen meetings.
Meanwhile a fourth woman has filed rape charges in Geneva against Ramadan, who is a Swiss citizen.
His supporters — including two million Facebook followers — have lashed out angrily at his arrest, with many complaining that he has been unfairly targeted because he is Muslim.
“Prosectors, the investigating magistrate and the liberty and custody judge are refusing to take into account the elements that support his case,” Marsigny said, again denouncing what he called “lies” and inconsistencies by Ramadan’s accusers.
“This decision shows the lack of impartiality by all the legal representatives — police and judges — involved in this case,” he said.
Eric Morain, a lawyer for one of Ramadan’s accusers, dismissed what he called claims of a “conspiracy theory.”
“They go around saying our clients contradict one another and lie, but why did the judges make this decision — Are they being manipulated?” Morain told AFP.
Investigating magistrates are expected to soon question Ramadan’s first accuser, Henda Ayari, 41, a feminist activist who previously practiced a conservative strain of Islam, and who says Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012.
A second woman, who is disabled, claims that Ramadan raped and beat her in a hotel in the southeastern city of Lyon in 2009.
The third accuser, a French Muslim woman who is using the pseudonym “Marie,” claims to have suffered multiple rapes in France, Brussels and London between 2013 and 2014.


Canada to announce marijuana legalization date soon

The federal government said provincial and territorial governments will need eight to 12 weeks following Senate passage and royal assent to prepare for retail sales. (AFP)
Updated 13 min 17 sec ago
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Canada to announce marijuana legalization date soon

  • Canada is following the lead of Uruguay in allowing a nationwide, legal marijuana market
  • Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in the US

TORONTO: The Canadian government said Wednesday it will soon announce the date when cannabis will become legal — but warned it will remain illegal until then.
The Senate gave final passage to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bill to legalize cannabis on Tuesday. But Canadians will have to wait at least a couple of months to legally buy marijuana. The country will become the second in the world to make pot legal nationwide.
“The legislation is transformative,” said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, adding it “marks a wholesale shift in how our country approaches cannabis, leaving behind a failed model of prohibition.”
The federal government said provincial and territorial governments will need eight to 12 weeks following Senate passage and royal assent to prepare for retail sales. Legal sales are expected to start sometime in early or mid-September.
Wilson-Raybould suggested Trudeau could announce the legalization date as soon as later Wednesday, when the prime minister has an end-of-Parliament session press conference.
“The law still remains the law,” Wilson-Raybould said. “I urge all Canadians to continue to follow the existing law until the Cannabis Act comes into force.”
Canada is following the lead of Uruguay in allowing a nationwide, legal marijuana market, although each Canadian province is working up its own rules for pot sales. The federal government and the provinces also still need to publish regulations that will govern the cannabis trade.
Many questions remain unanswered, including how police will test motorists suspect of driving under the influence, what to do about those with prior marijuana convictions and just how the rules governing home cultivation will work.
The Canadian provinces of Quebec and Manitoba have already decided to ban home-grown pot, even though the federal bill specifies that individuals can grow up to four plants per dwelling.
“Provinces can set their own laws. If individuals are challenging that law, they can challenge it,” Wilson-Raybould said.
Former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, said discussions for pardons of past convictions “can’t take place” until legalization is in effect.
In the neighboring US, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana. California, home to one in eight Americans, launched the United States’ biggest legal marijuana marketplace on Jan 1.