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DSK accuser may also be prostitute

The case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn seemed to unravel further yesterday with the publication of a new claim that the woman who accused him of rape and sexual assault may have worked as a prostitute.

The New York Post claimed that the housekeeper at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan was "doing double duty as a prostitute, collecting cash on the side from male guests".

Just as Mr Strauss-Kahn was subject to immediate vilification after the incident, the portrayal of the maid as pious devout Muslim was this weekend also being torn apart. The New York Post yesterday claimed that male guests at the Sofitel had paid her for sexual services, quoting an unnamed source close to investigators for Mr Strauss-Kahn's defence team.

Mr Strauss-Kahn had hired two international private investigation agencies to trawl the woman's past. "There is information... of her getting extraordinary tips, if you know what I mean. And it's not for bringing extra towels," the source told the newspaper.

Further claims have been made that the woman, from Guinea in Africa, may also face charges relating to an allegation of perjury. It was also reported yesterday that evidence of "lying rehearsals" had emerged.

If confirmed, the allegation that the woman worked as a hotel prostitute may explain why Mr Strauss-Kahn insists their encounter was consensual. His defence attorneys refused yesterday to comment on the new claims, or to say whether he had paid her for sex.

The claims will raise questions as to the manner in which the authorities in New York initially handled the allegations made by the woman. Questions are already been asked as to whether the police properly weighed the accusations before they arrested Mr Strauss-Kahn in May and hustled him off an aircraft in handcuffs.

In France, meanwhile, some effort is being made to urge Mr Strauss-Kahn to come back to France and join the 2012 presidential race, although at this stage, that prospect is thought unlikely.

The former French culture minister, Jack Lang, a friend of Mr Strauss-Kahn, also said that the wife of the former IMF chief, is "happy" that her husband is no longer under house arrest and that she was relieved by the outcome of events last week.

Mr Lang would not go into detail about the couple's plans. But he said of Mr Strauss-Kahn: "He could be a good candidate."

He also dismissed concerns that Mr Strauss-Kahn's image had been sullied by the charges.

While the case was not dismissed, Mr Strauss-Kahn won a reprieve with his release last Friday after prosecutors found evidence undermining the credibility of his accuser.

He was released and will have his bail returned, but not his passport. His next court hearing is scheduled for July 18. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Socialist Party in France is selecting its candidate for next year's presidential vote through an open primary in October, the first time a French political party will choose its candidate this way.

Contenders have until July 13 to register. Although Mr Strauss-Kahn's release gave his supporters hope for his possible return to French politics, few are willing to say he will be in the race.

Sunday Independent