IMF head was famous lady's man: ex-minister
IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a well-known "flirt" and "libertine" but the sex assault charges against him are another matter, one of his French former cabinet colleagues said Wednesday.
"It is true that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has always had a reputation as a man who is interested in women, even as a libertine," said Elisabeth Guigou, who was justice minister when Strauss-Kahn was finance minister in the 1990s.
This reputation was "well known to everyone," Guigou said on RTL radio, the first fellow member of the opposition Socialist party to comment openly on Strauss-Kahn's reputation.
"But there is a very big difference between the reputation of flirt... which was established, which he and his wife came to terms with," and "the accusation he faces, which is very serious, of sexual assault," she added.
Before Strauss-Kahn's arrest in New York on charges of trying to rape a hotel maid, allegations about his conduct had long circulated in French political and media circles, but the press had rarely investigated them.
"There is a very big difference between that (reputation) and a sexual crime or offence, which clearly should be treated with implacable severity," Guigou said.
Politicians on left and right in France have stressed Strauss-Kahn has the right to be presumed innocent. He previously polled as the candidate most likely to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election.
© 2011 AFP