Strauss-Kahn lawyers seek to probe maid

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Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn intend to probe the hotel maid accusing the former IMF chief of attempted rape for evidence of behavioral problems, according to court documents.

In a nine-page request to prosecutors, the defense attorneys list a series of demands for access to evidence collected against Strauss-Kahn, who is awaiting trial on a $6 million bail and bond.

They also seek to have prosecutors barred from accessing emails and phone messages sent to cell phones and an iPad confiscated from Strauss-Kahn after his shock detention on an Air France plane about to leave New York for Paris on May 14.

The "demand for discovery" document was filed Monday with Judge Michael Obus, the same day that Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty to seven counts of sex crimes, including attempted rape, against a 32-year-old woman cleaning his suite at the Manhattan Sofitel.

One request is for evidence of any prosecution witness "suffering from any physical or mental disability, emotional disturbance, drug addiction, or alcohol addiction."

The attorneys, William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, also demand to know whether any defense witness has immigration problems or is seeking payments through a civil lawsuit.

Although there is no specific reference to the maid, a still-unidentified immigrant from west Africa, the lawyers' demands clearly align with hints that they intend to attempt to undermine her credibility and claim that any sexual encounter was consensual.

The list of demands includes physical evidence, such as clothing belonging to Strauss-Kahn, "blood, hair, fibers or any other substance that may contain DNA," and video footage.

It also seeks access to prosecution interviews with witnesses at the Sofitel, Air France and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant -- apparently the establishment Strauss-Kahn lunched at immediately after the alleged assault.

Intriguingly, the lawyers ask to be told whether "evidence of uncharged criminal conduct is intended to be introduced against the defendant," an apparent reference to speculation that previous complaints about Strauss-Kahn's sexual behavior may be aired in court.

Particular emphasis is put on the defense attorney's insistence that certain messages stored on Strauss-Kahn's confiscated phones, iPad and Apple computer remain secret.

Some messages are "sensitive and confidential" and some phone messages and emails left after Strauss-Kahn's arrest "contain information concerning preparation of the defense that should not be heard by the District Attorney."

© 2011 AFP

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