Open letter to Ms. Nicole Belloubet, Minister of Justice

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February 21, 2020

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I have just been interrogated on Thursday 13 February by the investigating judges, Ms. Camille Guillermet and Camille Palluel (Mr. Cyril Paquaux was absent). It’s the first time I had a hearing in fifteen months. I was able to tell the judges how shocked I was by the way in which the investigation is conducted: the sole purpose is to incriminate me; the exculpatory elements are ignored as well as the numerous requests submitted by my lawyer, Mr Marsigny. Some information have not been added to the file on time. Moreover, the judges do not take into account the Criminal Division’s conclusions, which are often damning for the plaintiffs.

I do respect the principle of separation of powers and I am not asking you here to intervene in the case. It is urgent, however, as Minister of Justice, that you enforce the rules of due process as well as the Judiciary’s code of ethics which require that the judges be independent, impartial and respectful of the defendant’s rights.

Following the #MeToo movements, I was the only accused person to be imprisoned for almost ten months, whose presumption of innocence was not respected though I gave myself in voluntarily on January 31, 2018, refusing to speak to the media and insisting that I will only speak to the police and the judges.

Today, the political class and the mainstream media condemn unanimously and rightfully so, the fact that sexual videos and messages of Mr. Benjamin Griveaux (former Minister and French government’s spokesperson) were made public on the Net. They are worried about the disastrous impact these publications could have on his family. What do you think, Minister, about the fact that the secrecy of the investigation was never respected in my case and that the media had direct access to the file. They published the crudest messages immediately after the interrogations without any consideration to my family. They also never bothered to verify the veracity of these messages since two of the plaintiffs admitted, before the Criminal Division, to have created accounts and falsified messages. Are these two treatments equal and fair?

It took less than 48 hours, in the case of Mr. Griveaux, for the alleged culprit of these publications on the Internet, Piotr Pavlenski, to be arrested by the police and taken into custody with his girlfriend. How can it be explained that, after more than 28 months of investigation, those named in my file and identified by the Criminal Division still have not been interrogated by the judges, despite repeated requests from my lawyer. The Israeli French paparazzi Jean-Claude Elfassi has been in contact with the five complainants, still according to the Criminal Division, for years. Three of the complainants publicly accuse him of lies, manipulation, and even fraud in my case. How can the investigating judges ignore such accusations and not interrogate this paparazzi who plays a central and troubled role in my case?

Caroline Fourest’s name appeared very early on in the file. According to the Criminal Division, she had exchanged more than 400 messages with the first two complainants between May 2017 (six months before the first complaint was lodged) and August 2018. The judges ignored my lawyer’s request to have access to the phone details in order to know the exact dates of these exchanges, and yet Ms. Fourest has still not been interrogated. Additionally, the prosecutor Michel Debacq confirmed in the French newspaper “Le Journal Du Dimanche”, February 6, 2018, that he had met “Christelle”, in 2009, in the company of Ms. Fourest. According to him “the facts were clear” and he had “Advised to file a complaint.” A judge on duty is obliged to report a crime, but Mr. Debacq remained silent. In fact, either the prosecutor has failed to carry out his duty and then must give some explanation, or he had not considered it to be an act of rape, and therefore he must make it public. To date, he has not been heard and we have not received any response to the letter sent to you to this effect by my previous lawyer, Mr Bouzrou.

I was indicted twice on Thursday, February 13, following an astounding interrogation of which the media has widely reported. “Elvira” filed a complaint in May 2019. The Prosecutor’s Office immediately, and without caution, added new prosecution’s charges on the basis of her statements alone, without conducting the slightest investigation. Upon investigation, the Criminal Division revealed that this woman had lied, that she had been repeatedly convicted and imprisoned for two years for slanderous accusation. It was Mr. Elfassi, the investigation found out, who forwarded the complaint to the police. However, the investigating judges, without drawing any lessons from the serious mishandling of the “Elvira” case, decided to indict me on the basis of two testimonies and, once again, before conducting any investigation.

None of these two women had yet filed a complaint. One of them disappeared while the second one lodged a complaint only two days before my court hearing. First, she told the police clearly that it was a “consensual relationship” and then gave a new version that is, word for word, carbon copy version of the first two complainants.

Confronted by an empty case, the judges introduced the concept of “psychological grip” which seems to be a last resort to save this investigation from the wreck. It is a question of giving a new definition of rape which will therefore apply only to me. It also represents another understanding of the law which justified the dismissal of the cases of MM. Darmanin, Hulot, Besson, Depardieu, etc. Does it seem plausible to you, Minister, that women who changed versions three times, parroted each other’s narrative, lied, know each other, are in contact with my enemies, plan to trap me (as revealed by the Criminal Division’s reports); does it sound plausible to you, that these women could be under a “psychological grip”? It is insane, and yet the judges have mandated Dr. Daniel Zagury to study the relevance of this concept in my case. Not only is the mission perplexing, but the choice of Dr. Daniel Zagury is troubling. The latter is a member of the scientific committee of the “Schibboleth” association which organizes its activities between France and Israel. The organisation’s ideological leanings and at least 16 of its members have publicly taken a stand against me, associating me with the “Muslim Brotherhood” which they consider as a sect, fascist and terrorist. As a member of the scientific committee, Dr. Zagury endorses the intellectual production that results from the conferences organized by Schibboleth who invariably considers me as an enemy. How could Dr. Zagury accept this mission? How could the judges have chosen him from hundreds of psychiatrists or psychologists who are just as competent and surely more ideologically neutral? As I reiterated to the judges, it would never occur to any impartial judge to request an expert opinion concerning a Tibetan pacifist resistant from a psychiatrist who is a member of an association affiliated with the Chinese government which considers this pacifist resistant as a de facto terrorist.

French justice is often criticized, on a European level, for the too frequent intrusion of politics in the judiciary. To this reality is added the danger of deviation due to the quasi-discretionary power exercised by the judges and which French lawyers justifiably complain about. For these two reasons, and in light of all the facts laid out, I ask you to take action to ensure that my rights are respected. I’m not asking for any favours, but I believe I am entitled to impartial, fair and equal treatment. The investigation must take into account all the exculpatory elements and all those named and involved in the case must be interrogated as soon as possible.

President Emmanuel Macron recently defended the right to blasphemy, regarding the Milla affair, by stating that “the republican order is not the moral order”. It would be grave and unacceptable that, in my case, the instrumentalization of the “moral order” with regards to my person, my thoughts and my actions, justifies the non-respect of the republican order which demands the equal treatment of all citizens regardless of their origin, colour, religion or social status.

Tariq Ramadan

19 February 2020