French charge scholar Tariq Ramadan with suspected rape

FILE - In this Feb.7 2016 file photo, Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan delivers a speech during a French Muslim organizations meeting in Lille, northern France. Ramadan is facing charges in France after two days in custody for an investigation into accusations of rape and sexual assault. A French judicial official said Friday Feb. 2, 2018 that Ramadan was handed overnight to Paris prosecutors, who are to open a formal inquiry into the case. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File)

PARIS — Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan was handed preliminary charges in two alleged cases of rape by women who sought his counsel, a judicial official said Friday.

Ramadan was jailed, at least temporarily.

Ramadan was placed under investigation for alleged rape in a 2009 encounter and the rape of a vulnerable person in a 2012 case, the official said. Both women filed the complaints last year.

The scholar asked to postpone a debate required before eventual confinement, according to the judicial official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Ramadan strongly denies wrongdoing and has filed his own suit for false allegations.

An investigating magistrate in charge of the case followed the request of the Paris prosecutor's office in charging him. Ramadan has been in custody in Paris since Wednesday.

Preliminary charges mean that after a full investigation the suspect can either be freed for lack of grounds or be indicted and sent to trial. The investigation can be lengthy.

The prosecutor's office has asked the judge to keep Ramadan — who holds Swiss nationality — in custody, likely because of concerns he could leave the country.

Ramadan is on leave from Britain's Oxford University, where he is a professor of contemporary Islamic studies. He travels frequently and has written numerous books on Islam and the integration of Muslims in Europe.

He is being investigated by French authorities because the rapes are alleged to have taken place in Paris and Lyon.

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