Minister won't rule out Strauss-Kahn set-up
A French government minister said Sunday he could not rule out that IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest for alleged sexual assault was the result of a set-up with political motives.
"We cannot rule out the thought of a trap," Henri de Raincourt, minister for overseas cooperation in President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, said in a broadcast interview.
"I refuse to have a personal opinion and say, 'Yes it was a trap,' or 'No, it wasn't a trap.' I don't know," he said.
"I note that this has happened just after the affair of the car and the suit in a short space of time," he added, referring to sniping at the Socialist presidential hopeful for using a Porsche and wearing tailor-made clothes.
"I am not ruling anything out," Raincourt added. "If this turns out to have been a trap, let me tell you that it would not be to the credit of those who set it."
Strauss-Kahn had not yet formally announced his bid to run for president for the opposition Socialist party and was 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 sexually assaulting and trying to rape a maid in a hotel. US media said she had entered his hotel suite thinking 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.
Sniping by Strauss-Kahn's political rivals has been 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.
Strauss-Kahn's wife Anne Sinclair and allies have defended him.
"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.
"It's not like him. Everyone knows that his weakness is seduction, women. That's how they got him."
© 2011 AFP