NANTES, France — A Muslim Frenchman cited by officials as a reason behind a crackdown on polygamy has been charged with aggravated rape, the state prosecutor said Sunday.
Xavier Ronsin said Lies Hebbadj, who lives in the Nantes region of western France, was charged with aggravated rape based on a complaint from a former companion.
Hebbadj, who was detained Friday, contests the charge, but there was “sufficient reason” to file preliminary charges — which triggers a full investigation, the prosecutor said. Hebbadj’s ex-companion claims she was repeatedly raped from 2003-2007.
The Algerian-born Hebbadj made headlines for purportedly being a polygamist, but because his reported four companions and up to 15 children live under separate roofs investigators could not prove polygamy as defined by law.
He was charged in June with fraud for allegedly collecting too much state aid for the women and children.
The case became public last April when his veiled wife was issued a traffic citation for driving with apparel that hinders vision.
Hebbadj, who wears a back and white head covering, caused a media storm when he first appeared before TV cameras to discuss the case.