French writer repeats Strauss-Kahn rape attempt charge

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The French writer accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a 2003 rape attempt said she maintained her allegation during a police-arranged encounter with the former IMF chief on Thursday.

"There was a rape attempt and I repeated that," Tristane Banon told TF1 television after the two-hour meeting with Strauss-Kahn that was part of a police investigation to allow prosecutors to decide to press charges or not.

"I had in front of me exactly the same Strauss-Kahn that I saw on television, with the same arrogance, the same coldness," said Banon, who lodged a formal complaint against Strauss-Kahn in July.

Banon brought the charge after Strauss-Kahn was accused of attempting to rape a New York hotel maid, although charges related to that case were dropped after US prosecutors deemed the alleged victim unreliable.

"I thought he'd apologise at least for what he's admitted to. I looked at him constantly, he didn't dare look at me," Banon said, after Strauss-Kahn reportedly admitted he tried to kiss her.

The former French Socialist presidential hopeful denies attempted rape, says Banon's allegation is imaginary and is suing her for defamation.

She said that in front of police Strauss-Kahn had said he had either forgotten what happened or that her allegations were imaginary.

She said she did not feel hatred towards Strauss-Kahn, only contempt, and alleged that he was employing people to try to discredit her.

"I knew I'd be given a hard time, just as Nafissatou Diallo (the hotel maid) was in the United States," she said.

"That's what's happening, this group of public relations people is trying to get my ex-boyfriends to say that I'm unbalanced, to show my chaotic childhood, that I'm sleeping with my lawyer.

"In what kind of country do you attack my lawyer, my childhood my family my father in order to explain that I wasn't the victim of an attempted rape?"

Banon also poured scorn on Strauss-Kahn's attempt to get the New York civil case dismissed, claiming diplomatic immunity as a former IMF chief.

"That's just like him," she said. "I ask myself why would an innocent man need immunity? If I was wrongly accused of something I wouldn't need diplomatic immunity.

"What does diplomatic immunity mean? That you have the right to attack women, to try to rape them, to rape them?"

© 2011 AFP

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