Strauss-Kahn wins $1 million bail

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Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn won bail Thursday after being indicted on "serious" sex charges, but was ordered to remain under house arrest with an armed guard and post $1 million in cash.

Judge Michael Obus also told the former head of the International Monetary Fund to put up a $5 million bond, wear an electronic ankle bracelet, and surrender all travel documents.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, was indicted on all seven charges presented to a New York grand jury following his arrest for the alleged sexual assault of a chambermaid in his suite in the luxury Sofitel hotel on Saturday.

"Under American law, these are extremely serious charges," district attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters after the hearing.

The veteran French politician, who had set his sights on becoming the next president of France, will have to spend one more night in the notorious Rikers Island jail pending the signing of the bail package on Friday.

He was sent to an isolated cell in the sprawling complex on Monday when a different judge initially denied him bail, deeming him a flight risk as France and the United States have no extradition treaty.

Strauss-Kahn, who looked shaven and wearing a jacket and shirt, has denied all charges of the sexual assault, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment of the 32-year-old woman from the West African nation of Guinea.

The hearing came just hours after he resigned from the IMF, saying he needed to devote his time and energy to fighting to clear his name. If convicted he could face more than 74 years in jail, with the most serious charges carrying a maximum term of 25 years.

As he arrived in court, Strauss-Kahn smiled at his American-born wife, French television journalist Anne Sinclair, who looked red-eyed but calm as she brushed away tears from the cheeks of his daughter, Camille.

Defense lawyer William Taylor had urged the judge to grant Strauss-Kahn bail, assuring the court that the veteran French politician was an "honorable man" who would not try to flee.

"We want to express our pleasure that the judge has made this decision, it's great relief to the family to be able to have him with them," Taylor told journalists after the hearing.

The prosecution contends that Strauss-Kahn was seen rushing from his hotel room on Saturday and later detained aboard an Air France flight minutes before take-off from JFK airport.

His flight was "unusually hasty," assistant district attorney John McConnell said. "His exit from that crime scene certainly suggests that something had gone on."

"The proof against him is substantial. It continues to grow every day," he added as he argued in vain that bail should be denied. The next full hearing, during which Strauss-Kahn could enter a plea, will be on June 6.

Under the bail conditions, Strauss-Kahn will live in 24-hour confinement in a New York apartment, with video cameras and an armed security guard posted with him.

McConnell said it would cost "in excess of $200,000 a month" to pay for the tight security to meet the bail conditions.

A lawyer for Strauss-Kahn's accuser, Jeff Shapiro, had earlier said that 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.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Benjamin Brafman said earlier this week 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.

The Fund's executive board met later Thursday to start the search for Strauss-Kahn's successor, with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde a front-runner to succeed him.

© 2011 AFP

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