'Shame on you:' maid protest greets Strauss-Kahn

6th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrival at court Monday was greeted by boos and repeated chants of "Shame on you!" from a group of about 100 women dressed as maids.

The chants were so loud they could be heard through the 13th floor of the courtroom where Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting a hotel chambermaid last month.

The 62-year-old, who denies all seven counts, including attempted rape, in what prosecutors say was a brutal assault on a 32-year-old immigrant from west Africa, ignored the chants and booing.

Stepping out of a black sport utility vehicle, the former French presidential hopeful, wearing a dark-blue suit and tie and a light-blue shirt, was grave-faced as he entered the court building, his wife Anne Sinclair smiling elegantly on his arm.

The women dressed as maids, who came in on a specially organized bus, wore black and white outfits and chanted "Shame on you! Shame on you!" non-stop, their voices rising above the scrum of journalists and court officials.

Stepping off the bus, members of the New York Hotel Workers Union carried signs saying: "An injury to one of us is an injury to all of us."

Strauss-Kahn entered his formal plea before Judge Michael Obus in the Manhattan court, setting the stage for a lengthy trial process.

The arraignment hearing itself lasted seven minutes and soon Strauss-Kahn and his wife were out again, looking less serious than before as the protesting maids piped up again with their now familiar cry: "Shame on you!"

The entire proceedings lasted less than 20 minutes.

Strauss-Kahn's arrest and quick resignation as head of the International Monetary Fund threw the global lender and economic policy powerhouse into disarray just as it grapples with debt crises in the European Union.

Many in France believe that the Socialist party figure has been mistreated, but the case has also stirred unusually vigorous debate in the country over long-taboo subjects such as sexual harassment.

© 2011 AFP

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