A Senegalese Koranic master suspected of raping 27 of his schoolgirls in Touba was arrested on Monday in the central Senegalese town after several weeks on the run, a police official told AFP.
The alleged rapist "was arrested today after presenting himself to the police. After questioning, he was handed over to the gendarmerie. He had been on the run" for several weeks, said the Touba police chief, confirming a report in the local press.
Touba is considered a holy city by the Mourides, a major Muslim religious brotherhood in Senegal.
The Koranic master, whose age was not given, had disappeared since the case broke during the first quarter following a complaint from victims who produced medical certificates, the official said.
He is accused of "raping 27 pupils at his school in Touba", he said. The alleged assaults took place over a period of time, he said, without giving further details. He did not comment on the ages of the victims.
The victims are "minors", which suggests that they were under 15, and the Koranic school, where lessons are given on and around Islam, has been closed, according to the local press.
The affair broke out when one of the girls refused to return to school because the Koranic master "was having sexual relations with her and all the other girls", wrote the daily "le Jour" on 31 May.
This case coincides just a few days with the verdict handed down last week against opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, who was accused of raping a beauty salon employee in Dakar. Mr Sonko was finally acquitted of the rape charge, but sentenced to two years' imprisonment for inciting the young woman to commit an indecent assault.
The case dominated the headlines for two years. But the issue of sexual violence was relegated to the background, so politicised was the case.
The Senegalese Parliament criminalised rape in 2020.