Strauss-Kahn freed from house arrest, case 'not over'

1st July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A US judge released Dominique Strauss-Kahn on his "own recognizance" Friday, but prosecutors who consented to the easing of bail restrictions did not dismiss the sexual assault case against the former IMF chief.

The French politician was in a New York courtroom for a brief but extraordinary hearing in the wake of reports that prosecutors had grave doubts about the credibility Strauss-Kahn's accuser, a Guinea-born hotel maid.

While sources suggested to US media that the case had serious problems, Judge Michael Obus stressed that the "case is not over, as you've just heard," and Strauss-Kahn's passport was withheld from him.

"In the meantime there will be no rush to judgment on this case," Obus told the packed courtroom. "We expect the process will go on."

Strauss-Kahn's next court appearance was set for July 18.

Lawyers for Strauss-Kahn, who with his wife at his side strode out of court with a smile and stepped into a waiting car, were upbeat about the hearing.

"This is obviously a very happy day," attorney William Taylor said.

Strauss-Kahn is now able to travel freely in the United States and will have his $1 million bail and $5 million bond returned, after prosecutors declined to contest the move.

The sensational twists to the case have raised hopes among France's opposition that the case will collapse and the Socialist heavyweight could return to politics, perhaps even as a candidate to fight Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency in 2012.

© 2011 AFP

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