Wednesday 21 February 2018

Former IMF chief to claim arrest 'full of errors'

Paula Nouvelle in New York

LAWYERS representing Dominique Strauss-Kahn will claim his arrest was marred by irregularities when he is formally arraigned in New York state court today on sexual assault charges.

The former International Monetary Fund chief faces several charges, including attempted rape, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment on a New York hotel maid last month.

He was arrested on May 14 as he sat in an Air France jet awaiting clearance for take-off for Paris after contacting the Sofitel hotel to say he had forgotten one of his mobile phones.

Police traced the call and arrested him, citing fears he might seek to flee the country.

A source close to Mr Strauss-Kahn, a former Socialist presidential hopeful, said the flight fear was unfounded.


"The conditions of Mr Strauss-Kahn's arrest pose a problem," the source told 'Le Journal du Dimanche'.

"It appears the prosecutor glossed a little fast over the question of his personal status, and his computer and telephones.

"They had the IMF director arrested like a chicken thief. To justify it, they brought up (the risk of) flight, but the plane was booked some time ago (and changed the previous day)."

Mr Strauss-Kahn is awaiting trial in a $50,000-per-month (€34,000) apartment in Tribeca after his heiress wife paid a $1m (€683,893) bail and $200,000-a-month (€136,800) security fee.

Lef Forster, a French lawyer who had previously represented Mr Strauss-Kahn, said he was convinced he would plead not guilty.

The trial will pit two of America's top legal heavyweights against each other -- Manhattan's district attorney Cyrus R Vance and Ben Brafman, defence lawyer to the stars.

Mr Brafman said last night that Mr Strauss-Kahn would enter a plea of not guilty before Judge Michael Obus today.

He is accused of attacking a 32-year-old African immigrant when she came to clean his suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel in Midtown Manhattan, apparently believing it had been vacated.

The defence is reportedly expected to argue that sex was consensual, that the plaintiff, who is from Guinea, is not credible and that she acted out of financial gain.

The prosecution will say she is a devout Muslim single mother who was trapped by a powerful sex offender.

The defence will for the first time have access to the "voluntary disclosure form", detailing the evidence gathered so far by the prosecution.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, who has four daughters, said in his IMF resignation letter that he denies the charges but his court appearance today will be just the first step in what could be drawn-out legal proceedings.

Until the alleged sexual assault in New York, Mr Strauss-Kahn had been expected to quit his IMF post for a different reason -- a bid to become the Socialist candidate for president of France.

He had been a strong favourite to beat conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the polls next year.

Instead, Mr Strauss-Kahn spent four days in New York's Rikers Island jail before he was released on bail.

Mr Strauss-Kahn also has been consulting with a posse of investigators and media advisers about how to deal with the criminal charges against him and how to limit any damage to his reputation from the allegations.

Irish Independent

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