IMF chief's wife says doesn't believe sex claims
The wife of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Sunday she does not believe "for one second" the accusations of sexual assault for which her husband was arrested in New York.
"I do not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband. I have no doubt his innocence will be established," Anne Sinclair, a well-known television journalist, said in a statement sent to AFP.
She called for "decency and restraint" in the wake of the scandal, which has thrown the early stages of France's 2012 presidential race into uncertainty.
Allies of Strauss-Kahn also defended him, with one alleging the scandal was a conspiracy to disrupt global finance.
"I am convinced it is an international conspiracy," said Michelle Sabban, a senior councillor for the greater Paris region and a Strauss-Kahn loyalist.
"It's the IMF they wanted to decapitate, not so much the Socialist primary candidate," she said, in a nod to rumours of political interests in the arrest of Strauss-Kahn, whom polls have pegged as favourite for the French presidency.
"This is a new form of political assassination," Sabban said. "They wanted to block the IMF. This is international finance."
Strauss-Kahn had not yet formally announced his bid to run for president for the opposition Socialist party and was still trotting the globe as head of the International Monetary Fund, a key player in handling the financial crisis.
Police arrested him on a plane about to take off from New York on Saturday and charged him with trying to rape a maid in a hotel room. US media said the chambermaid had entered his hotel suite believing it was unoccupied.
Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said he would deny all the accusations and plead not guilty. He was expected to be formally arraigned before a New York judge later on Sunday.
"It's not like him. Everyone knows that his weakness is seduction, women. That's how they got him," Sabban said. "How can you get into the room of the head of the IMF like that? And then he just calmly caught his plane?"
Sniping by Strauss-Kahn's political rivals was growing in an election fight that risked getting ever dirtier, against a backdrop of long-standing claims about Strauss-Kahn's conduct in private with women.
Polls have shown that Strauss-Kahn, known as DSK, could comfortably beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election.
"This affair is not at all like DSK, the man we all know," said another close ally, Socialist lawmaker Jean-Marie Le Guen. "We should refrain from drawing any conclusions before Dominique Strauss-Kahn has spoken."
© 2011 AFP