On November 13, 1995, an Egyptian diplomat on duty for the UN was shot six times in Geneva. He was investigating the war treasure of the Muslim Brotherhood allegedly managed by Said Ramadan, Hassan al-Banna’s son-in-law. A quarter of a century later, the case has just experienced an incredible turnaround: the Swiss federal court has just ordered the release of the alleged killer, arrested in 2018!
By Ian Hamel, in Geneva
Alaa el-Dim Nazmi, aged 42, has just parked his BMW in the parking lot of his building. The Egyptian diplomat is coldly shot by six bullets fired from a SIG P210 Parabellum pistol. The killer leaves the gun at the scene. “The barrel of the gun is wrapped in a synthetic foam case to attenuate the resonance of the bullets,” says Richard Labévière, then a journalist for French-speaking Swiss television, in Les dollars de la terreur (Grasset, February 1999).
Carla del Ponte, Attorney General of the Confederation, took the case personally. This assassination has just violated one of the unwritten rules laid down by Switzerland, a neutral country. It turns a blind eye to all trafficking and other foreign shenanigans, but only on condition that no one kills each other on its territory. Was this rule not scrupulously respected by the belligerents during World War II?
The diplomat was murdered on November 13, 1995. On November 21, police searched the Geneva Islamic Centre (CIG), founded by Said Ramadan, Hassan al-Banna’s son-in-law and father of Tariq and Hani Ramadan. What is the connection between the assassination and the Ramadan family? Said Ramadan died on August 4, 1995, and a note from a European intelligence service states that “the family shared an apparently considerable sum of money that Said Ramadan had been managing on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt”. And precisely, this Egyptian diplomat was investigating the war treasure of the Brotherhood.
Simple coincidence? It was at the same period that Tariq Ramadan’s rise in France began, and the mass distribution of his books and cassettes by the Tawhid publishing houses of Lyon.
Violent Dispute With the Muslim Brotherhood
Still in Les dollars de la terreur, Richard Labévière tells in 1999 that this capture of the savings of the Brotherhood would have “opened a violent dispute between the family and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt”. Curiously, the Ramadans, which are usually prompt to lodge a complaint, do not move. Nor do they protest when Caroline Fourest in Brother Tariq, and Lionel Favrot, in Tariq Ramadan dévoilé, two books published in 2004, evoke in their turn the “evaporation” of this war treasure.
And above all, how can we explain that since his father’s death in 1995, Tariq Ramadan has never set foot in Egypt again? For a long time, he claimed that he was forbidden to stay there, without proving it. Especially since he has a Swiss passport. Strangely enough, when Mohamed Morsi takes power in June 2012, Tariq Ramadan continues to sulk Egypt. In an attempt to justify his disinterest in the country of his ancestors, in his book Islam and the Arab Awakening, he explains that in fact the “Arab Spring” was led by … the United States and Israel. On November 4, 2013, Hassan al-Banna’s grandson gave an interview in the Swiss daily Le Temps entitled: “The Muslim Brotherhood is very angry with me.” Without mentioning, of course, this possible dispute over a matter of big money.
The Federal Court Orders the Release of the Suspect
For a quarter century, the investigation into the assassination of the Egyptian diplomat has been at a standstill. The proceedings were suspended in 2009. First blow in October 2018: a man is arrested in Vernier, in the Canton of Geneva. He is an Italian-Ivorian, born in 1969. He is car salesman in Geneva and lives in neighboring France. He already made headlines in 2011 by receiving stolen gold. Most importantly, his DNA was found on the silencer of the gun that killed the Egyptian diplomat. This DNA had long been unusable for investigators. Technological developments have made it possible to make the prints legible and to find the suspect, twenty-three years after the tragedy (the statute of limitations is thirty years). This arrest is recounted in Tariq Ramadan, histoire d’une imposture (Flammarion, January 2020), written by the author of this article. Since his incarceration, the man has never spoken. One of his former girlfriends, who allegedly left her DNA on the silencer too, was also detained and released after six weeks in March 2019.
Another twist on May 18, 2020, the Federal Court, the highest judicial body of Switzerland, demands the immediate release of the suspect! This ruling is surprising, to say the least. While not denying that “the fingerprints and/or DNA belong to him”, that the individual presents a “dissocial personality disorder with particularly marked psychopathic traits”, that he is recognised as having “a certain affinity for weapons”, and that a former girlfriend refers to “comments made by the appellant’s brother – that he killed someone”, the Federal Court considers that “the circumstances surrounding the commission of the homicide are far from being definitively established” (Judgement 1B_195/2020 of May 18, 2020).
The daily Le Temps, which reports on the release of “Momo” – his nickname as a middle-class offender – explains that for these high-ranking magistrates, “his degree of involvement in a possible murder (if he had, for example, functioned as a hired killer) remains uncertain”.
From now on, it will be interesting to know the reaction of the Egyptian authorities after the release by the Swiss justice system of a man who left his fingerprints on the silencer of a pistol that killed one of his diplomats.