Strauss-Kahn case in jeopardy: New York Times

1st July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The sexual assault case against ex-IMF chief and French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn is collapsing due to doubts over the victim's credibility, a report said Thursday.

The New York Times story, citing two law enforcement sources close to the sensational case, was published shortly after the district attorney's office announced that Strauss-Kahn would make an unexpected court appearance Friday.

It said prosecutors did not believe much of the story from the Guinean-born maid and suspect she has repeatedly lied to them since the alleged May 14 attack in the French politician's Manhattan hotel room.

Officials said that within a day of the alleged rape attempt, she was recorded speaking on the phone with a man jailed for possessing 400 pounds (180 kilograms) of marijuana and discussed the benefits of pursuing charges.

"He is among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman's bank account over the last two years," the report said.

It said Friday's unscheduled court appearance would alter the strict bail conditions imposed on Strauss-Kahn and said the case was in jeopardy and that lawyers were discussing whether to dismiss the felony charges.

"It is a mess, a mess on both sides," one official told the respected daily, indicating that prosecutors would tell the judge they "have problems with the case."

The case dealt a devastating blow to the political hopes of the French politician, previously seen as a serious contender for the presidency, and prompted his resignation as head of the International Monetary Fund.

The Times said that under one scenario, Strauss-Kahn could be released on his own recognizance, and freed from house arrest, based on the likelihood that the serious criminal charges against him would not be sustained.

The district attorney's office may ask Strauss-Kahn to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, but his lawyers would contest such a move, it added.

Among the discoveries, one official told the newspaper, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, and possible links to criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.

Officials declined to reveal the reason for Friday's hearing.

"No details about this appearance will be available until the defendant appears in court tomorrow," said a statement from the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

The former French finance minister had not been expected back in court until July 18.

Strauss-Kahn had posted $1 million bail and a $5 million bond when he was released in May, and agreed to remain under house arrest with an ankle monitor.

Earlier Thursday, French newspaper Liberation, citing Strauss-Kahn's defense lawyers, said he was likely to challenge the legality of the identification lineup that took place a day after his arrest, during which the then-IMF director had been picked out by the alleged victim.

Strauss-Kahn had spent days in New York's tough Rikers Island jail pending the bail package agreement, but is now awaiting trial in his luxury rental apartment in Manhattan's TriBeCa neighborhood.

The Frenchman has denied all seven charges, including trying to rape the woman and sexually assaulting her when she came to clean his luxury hotel suite.

Strauss-Kahn resigned from the IMF shortly after his arrest, setting off a battle for the leadership of the Washington-based multilateral lender. Earlier this week, the Fund chose French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as the new managing director.

© 2011 AFP

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