Tuesday 25 July 2017

Strauss-Kahn 'could still enter French presidential race'

Serious doubts have been raised over the credibility of the maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape. Photo: PA
Serious doubts have been raised over the credibility of the maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape. Photo: PA

Jon Swaine in New York

Dominique Strauss-Kahn could still enter the French presidential race, French Socialists have suggested, who called for their party to suspend their primary contest following reports his criminal case could collapse.

Prosecutors have serious concerns about the credibility of the 32-year-old maid who accused Mr Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her, according to several reports on Thursday night.

They believe she has lied about their encounter, has links to a drug dealer and received strange payments into her bank account, according to The New York Times.

The woman's account of why she received asylum in the US, and even her claim to own only one mobile phone, have also been called into serious doubt, the report said.

French politician Michele Sabban said that the Socialists should suspend the presidential primary calendar because of the new developments.

"If Dominique Strauss-Kahn is cleared, I ask the Socialist party to suspend the primary process," she said.

Jack Lang, a former Socialist culture minister and an ardent supporter of DSK said. “He could still play a major role in France, without being candidate. This would give an extra chance for victory.”

Mr Strauss-Kahn could even be appointed a minister again under a Socialist president, he added.

But political analysts said his reputation had been too tarnished for him to be a presidential contender, although he could play an influential political role if cleared.

"Even if what he did was not criminal, all this is going to take time," said Christophe Barbier, a political commentator and editor of L'Express weekly.

"There is everything we have learned about him, the damage to his reputation. All this makes the idea he could be a candidate very hypothetical, it's science fiction."

Citing unnamed law-enforcement sources, the newspaper reported that New York prosecutors had admitted to Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers that there were serious problems with their case.

CNN, citing an unnamed "official close to Mr Strauss-Kahn's defence team", also said there were "serious issues regarding the credibility" of the maid.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, is due in court at 11.30 (16.30 BST) today, where he is expected to have the strict conditions of his $1 million (£620,000) bail relaxed. He is under house arrest and armed guard, and must wear an electronic tag.

But the newspaper said that the flaws in the prosecution were so great that he could soon also have all eight criminal charges against him - including attempted rape and criminal sexual acts - dismissed.

The report could herald a sensational turn of events in a case that has been at the centre of international attention since Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested on May 14.

It is bound to reignite claims among supporters of Mr Strauss-Kahn, formerly assumed to be a potential contender for the French presidency at the next general election, that he was set up – perhaps by people linked to his political enemies.

Prosecutors, previously bullish about the strength of the claims made by the Guinean maid, are now preparing to admit to Judge Michael Obus at New York supreme court that they “have problems with the case”, the newspaper said.

It said that the woman had a recorded phone call with “an incarcerated man” within a day of her encounter with Mr Strauss-Kahn, when she “discussed the possible benefits” of pursuing charges.

The man, said to have been arrested over possession of a huge amount of marijuana, was also among several people who made cash deposits into the maid's bank account, it said.

The deposits, which were said to total $100,000 (£62,000) were made in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania, according to the report.

It was further alleged that while the woman told investigators that part of her application for asylum in the US was that she had previously been raped, on further investigation it emerged this was not true.

She also told prosecutors that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, The New York Times said, but her account was different to what she had said previously in the asylum application.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was hauled off a flight at JFK airport on May 14 and charged with trying to rape the maid after emerging naked from a bathroom as she arrived to clean his suite at the Manhattan Sofitel.

It was alleged that when she resisted, he had locked her inside the room and forced her to give him oral sex. Both sides appeared to accept that scientific tests proved a sexual encounter had taken place.

Yet attorneys for Mr Strauss-Kahn, who has consistently denied all the charges, promptly indicated that they believed evidence “would not be consistent with a forcible encounter”.

They later said they had “substantial information” about the maid that would “seriously undermine the quality of this prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant in this case.”

After a court hearing last month, Kenneth Thompson, an attorney for the maid, angrily dismissed suggestions that she was part of a conspiracy against the French Socialist.

He promised that she would “get on that witness stand and tell the world what Dominique Strauss-Kahn did to her”. Mr Thompson could not be reached for comment last night.

Asked why his client was due in court, Benjamin Brafman, Mr Strauss-Kahn's attorney, earlier told The Daily Telegraph: “Bail application”. Asked to elaborate, he said: “No further comment tonight”.

A spokesman for Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney whose office oversees the prosecution, did not return a request for comment.

Telegraph.co.uk

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