'Brilliant' Strauss-Kahn has many options: lawyers

24th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

A "momentary lapse of judgement" should not prevent former IMF chief and one-time French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn from resuming his political career, his lawyers said Wednesday.

The day after sex charges against him were sensationally dismissed, Strauss-Kahn remained holed up in a New York townhouse and there was no indication of when he might pick up his passport and return to France.

Observers say it is unlikely the 62-year-old Socialist Party grandee, tipped before the sordid sex saga as the possible next French president, can put the scandal behind him in time to take on Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012.

But Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said their client had done nothing criminal that should impede his future prospects, with star attorney Benjamin Brafman condemning prosecutors and the media for having rushed to judgment.

"If you do something inappropriate, you don't get prosecuted," Brafman told NBC television's "Today Show" program. "He paid a heavy price for a momentary lapse of judgement that was not criminal."

Asked directly whether Strauss-Kahn might seek to return to public life in France, Brafman responded: "I think his options are wonderfully wide, he is a brilliant man and a brilliant economic mind when we need that most."

Attorney William Taylor, who also represented Strauss-Kahn and was interviewed alongside Brafman, said: "I think he and his family will take some time and just relax.

"They will make whatever arrangements they want to make about where they want to live and when they want to move. And then I suspect he will gather his friends around him and make some decisions."

A New York judge on Tuesday agreed to dismiss all the sex crime charges against Strauss-Kahn, ending a three-month-long saga that upended the career of one of the world's most powerful men.

Prosecutors asked the judge to abandon the case after determining that hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo had lied repeatedly to investigators and her allegations were no longer believable beyond a reasonable doubt.

The maid's lawyer said his client had been denied her right to justice, accusing prosecutors of turning their backs on the medical evidence and vowing to pursue Strauss-Kahn and a hefty payout through the civil courts.

"If the Manhattan district attorney, who is elected to protect our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our wives and our loved ones, is not going to stand up for them when they're raped or sexually assaulted, then who will?" Kenneth Thompson blasted.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Taylor, speaking later on CNN, dismissed Thompson's claim as "absolutely false" and said the hospital records showed no evidence of trauma.

Brafman described Diallo as "either evil or pathetic or both" and suggested that unnamed "others" could have been using her for their own purposes.

Shortly after Tuesday's ruling, Strauss-Kahn and his millionaire French wife Anne Sinclair celebrated with dinner at an Italian restaurant called L'Artusi in Manhattan's hip Greenwich Village neighborhood.

"This is the end of a terrible and unjust ordeal," Strauss-Kahn told reporters outside the luxury Manhattan rental residence where he has spent much of the last three and a half months couped up under house arrest.

"I'm eager to return to my country," he said, pledging to speak at "greater length" once back in France.

But he still didn't have his passport, which authorities confiscated from the then head of the International Monetary Fund at the time of his humiliating arrest May 14.

A rare earthquake along the US east coast meant offices in New York closed early Tuesday and although Strauss-Kahn was free he was told to wait until Wednesday to recover the document.

© 2011 AFP

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