French court denies request by Tariq Ramadan to drop rape charges

Ramadan has denied all the charges and says the relations were fully consensual

French judges have rejected a request by lawyers for Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan to drop charges of raping two women, a source close to the inquiry told AFP on Friday.

Ramadan, a Swiss citizen and Oxford University professor whose grandfather founded Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement, has been held since February on charges that he raped two women in France.

Investigative judges have already denied several requests for bail.

The request came after the first accuser, Henda Ayari, was questioned with Ramadan present for the first time by judges on Thursday.

Lawyers for both said judges uncovered discrepancies on the dates of the alleged assaults in Ayari's account, which prompted the request to drop the charges.

Ayari, a feminist activist who previously adhered to the strict Salafist branch of Islam, had told investigators that Ramadan raped her at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Paris on May 26, 2012.

But investigators later determined she was attending her brother-in-law's wedding in Rouen, northern France, on that date, prompting Ayari to admit she could not remember the exact date.

In a three-page ruling seen by AFP, the judges said that despite her "uncertainty" about the dates, "the serious or collaborated elements which prompted the charges remain."

It also found the testimony given by his second accuser, identified in the media only as Christine, "has proved to be exact."

Last month the judges dismissed a third rape allegation against Ramadan by a French Muslim woman who accused him of raping her nine times between 2013 and 2014.

Ramadan, who has denied all the charges, argued that their relations were fully consensual.