Strauss-Kahn indicted on sex charges

19th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was indicted on charges of sexual assault, prosecutors said Thursday, as he returned to court seeking to win bail from a gritty New York jail.

"An indictment has been voted and filed against the defendant," prosecutor John McConnell told a packed New York court minutes after Strauss-Kahn arrived for a new bail hearing.

His defense urged Judge Michael Obus to grant Strauss-Kahn bail, with his lawyer William Taylor assuring the court that former head of the International Monetary Fund was an "honorable man" who would not skip bail.

The hearing came just hours after Strauss-Kahn resigned from the IMF vowing to battle to clear his name after being charged with sexual assault, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment of a hotel chambermaid.

"I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me," said Strauss-Kahn, who before the scandal broke was considered a top contender to be the next president of France.

Strauss-Kahn's statement paid tribute to his American-born wife, top television journalist Anne Sinclair, who was in court Thursday, saying he "loved more than anything."

The veteran French politician said it was with "infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present... my resignation."

"I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence," said Strauss-Kahn.

Defense lawyers said Strauss-Kahn would put up $1 million in bail, surrender all his travel documents and submit to 24 hour electronic monitoring. A private security team would be with him "physically" until the electronic bracelet could be fitted on Friday.

He would also agree to be confined round-the-clock at his daughter's New York apartment.

His lawyers were also expected to tout his wife's American credentials before Obus, hoping to free him from Rikers Island jail.

The New York jail is a chaotic maze of holding cells filled with thousands of defendants who either can't afford bail or who, like Strauss-Kahn, are deemed a flight risk and have had their bail application denied.

Strauss-Kahn was refused bail in his first court hearing Monday, after a different judge deemed him a flight risk, and he has now spent three nights in the notorious jail in isolation and on suicide watch.

"These additional bail conditions eliminate any concern that Mr Strauss-Kahn would or could leave this court's jurisdiction," attorney Shawn Naunton wrote in the bail application.

But the lawyer for Strauss-Kahn's accuser, Jeff Shapiro, said his client, who has so far not been identified, was "alarmed" at the prospect of her alleged attacker leaving jail.

"The idea that this man would somehow or another be on the streets and free, I'm sure it would cause her a great deal of concern," he told CNN Wednesday. "She's very concerned about her security."

She alleges that Strauss-Kahn groped and mauled her in his room in the posh Sofitel hotel in Times Square and forcibly tried to have oral sex with her.

Police have taken away a section of a rug from the luxury suite which reportedly contains evidence of bodily fluids hoping to gain DNA evidence from the scene.

But Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Benjamin Brafman has said the evidence "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter," and New York media reports quoted a source close to the defense as saying "there may well have been consent."

Strauss-Kahn's resignation paves the way for the IMF to elect a new managing director as it steers delicate negotiations on the eurozone debt crisis.

Acting IMF chief John Lipsky said the Fund's executive board would meet later Thursday to launch the search for Strauss-Kahn's successor.

He said earlier in a speech that he deeply regrets "the circumstances that have made it necessary for me to substitute for Dominique Strauss-Kahn."

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the front-runner to succeed him and become the first woman to head the IMF, but emerging economic powers have called for an end to Europe's virtual monopoly on the world lender's top post.

© 2011 AFP

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