French PM says 'no excuse' if Strauss-Kahn sex charges true
If sex assault charges against French IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn are true, there can be "no excuse" for his actions, France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday, according to lawmakers.
"If the deeds of which Dominique Strauss-Kahn is accused are verified, we would be faced with a very serious act for which there is no excuse," Fillon told a closed-door meeting of lawmakers, according to participants.
Fillon is the most senior French leader to have commented on the scandal. His comments were quoted to AFP by several lawmakers of the ruling UMP party present at the meeting and confirmed by Fillon's office.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has so far stayed silent on the arrest of Strauss-Kahn, who had polled as the person most likely to beat him in next year's presidential election.
Strauss-Kahn is in jail in New York where he was arrested on Saturday and charged with trying to rape a maid in a Manhattan hotel.
"This is a matter of common law, not an affair of state," Fillon said, reiterating the line of fellow government ministers that Strauss-Kahn should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
But Fillon was the first senior politician to be quoted explicitly outlining a position on the alleged crime if the New York courts find Strauss-Kahn guilty.
The managing director of the International Monetary Fund "has the right to be presumed innocent and the alleged victim has the right to respect and compassion," Fillon said, to applause, according to the lawmakers.
"We must show moderation and responsibility," he added. "No one must exploit this affair."
© 2011 AFP