French prosecutors to probe Daillo lawyer witness claim

24th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

French prosecutors said Wednesday they would begin probing a claim by lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn accuser Nafissatou Diallo that an attempt was made to suborn a witness in the high profile case.

Prosecutor Marie-Therese de Givry said a complaint was lodged on Tuesday by the hotel maid's French lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, prompting the opening of a preliminary inquiry.

De Montbrial announced on Monday that he was to file a complaint at Pontoise court alleging that an official in Sarcelles, near Paris, pressurised a woman claiming to have had an affair with Strauss-Kahn not to give evidence.

The official, a deputy to Sarcelles mayor Francois Pupponi, has not been named.

Pupponi is a friend of Strauss-Kahn, himself a former mayor of Sarcelles, who stepped down as the head of the International Monetary Union in the wake of allegations he attempted to rape Diallo at a New York hotel on May 14.

A judge on Tuesday dismissed all sex crime charges against the 62-year-old, who prior to the scandal was tipped to run in French presidential elections next year.

In July Kenneth Thompson, Diallo's US lawyer, "had discussions with potential witnesses in the DSK affair," notably "with a woman from Sarcelles" who was in the United States, Montbrial told AFP.

She gave details which would be of interest to Diallo's case, the lawyer said, adding that Thompson gave her name to New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

But in early August, "one of Sarcelles deputy mayors, saying that he had been 'sent by his bosses' approached a relative" of the woman and asked "what it would cost to keep her quiet," the French lawyer said.

De Montbrial said the alleged attempt to suborn a witness was designed to block both the civil and criminal proceedings against Strauss-Kahn.

At the end of July, a woman who spoke of having had an affair with the ex-IMF chief told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper she had been contacted by Thompson.

She said too that her lawyer in Los Angeles had been contacted by prosecutor Vance's office in New York.

In an interview with a newspaper in Switzerland, where she fled to escape media attention, she had warned that her testimony "would probably serve the defence more than the prosecution."

© 2011 AFP

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