Dominique Strauss-Kahn questioned by French police over sexual assault allegations
Published 12/09/2011 | 15:40
Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been questioned by police "at his own request" over allegations he tried to rape a French writer.
Tristane Banon, 32, filed a complaint this summer alleging that the former International Monetary Fund chief sexually assaulted her in a Paris apartment in 2003 where he had invited her to interview him for a book she was writing.
Mr Strauss-Kahn's three-hour police interview as a "witness" came just over a week after the 62-year old economist returned to France after charges of sexually assaulting a hotel chambermaid in New York were dropped.
Miss Banon said the economist lunged at her like a "rutting chimpanzee" and she had to fend him off with kicks and punches as he ignored her cries of "rape".
Mr Strauss-Kahn is suing her for defamation, alleging she made up the "imaginary" assault as a publicity stunt.
Police are now conducting a preliminary investigation into Miss Banon's allegations to see if there is enough evidence to press charges. They have already interviewed friends, family members and other politicians in the investigation, including Miss Banon's mother - once Mr Strauss-Kahn's lover - and François Hollande, polled as most likely to be the Socialists' presidential candidate.
Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers Frédérique Baulieu and Henri Leclerc said on Monday: "At the request of Mr Strauss-Kahn, this interview is taking place as early as possible in the timetable of the investigation."
Miss Banon told The Daily Telegraph over the weekend she was "sickened" by the "hero's welcome" he received on his return to France from the US.
"What has been happening over the past six days makes me feel sick," she wrote.
"I cannot believe that my country gives a hero's welcome to a man who has not been cleared.
"I hear people telling me of their disgust, I feed off their support to remain upright, yet I am the one who bows my head and hugs the walls while others laugh at the cameras."
She has called for a demonstration on September 24 in front of Paris's criminal court to demand a trial.
Mr Strauss-Kahn's return has embarrassed the opposition French Socialist party, about to launch presidential primaries. Its former leader Martine Aubry, a presidential hopeful, said Mr Strauss-Kahn "must explain himself" to party colleagues.
Before his arrest in New York in May, he had been the Socialist party's favourite to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy next April, with polls predicting he would win comfortably.
Attempted rape charges were dropped in New York after prosecutors ruled that chambermaid Nafissatou Diallo had later lied to police and was "unreliable". Mr Strauss-Kahn had always insisted sex was consensual.
He still faces a civil lawsuit in the US.