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DSK claims diplomatic immunity

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has claimed he has diplomatic immunity and asked a New York court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the hotel maid who says he sexually assaulted her.

Lawyers for the former International Monetary Fund leader filed the motion in a Bronx court, arguing judges there do not have the ability to try the case, because Strauss-Kahn's time as head of the fund gives him immunity from the litigation.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, was initially charged with attempted rape and held under house arrest after the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, said he attacked her in his hotel suite on May 14 and forced her to perform oral sex. The case was eventually dismissed when prosecutors said they had lost faith in Ms Diallo's credibility after a series of lies she told them unrelated to the assault allegations.

Lawyers for Ms Diallo, who came forward publicly in a series of interviews, filed the lawsuit against Mr Strauss-Kahn in the Bronx on August 8 as the criminal case was still active. It recounted in graphic detail the woman's version of the encounter but did not ask for specific damages.

There is a lower burden of proof in civil cases, and it is possible that Mr Strauss-Kahn would have to testify if it went to trial. He recently spoke about the incident at the Sofitel Hotel in an interview broadcast on French television, calling the encounter a "moral failing", but he said it "did not involve violence, constraint or aggression".

The 32-year-old Guinean immigrant maintains Mr Strauss-Kahn attacked her. Her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said the diplomatic immunity claim would fail because he is not an official diplomat and was on "personal" business when the incident occurred.

"This baseless motion is another desperate attempt to avoid having to answer for the deplorable acts he committed against Ms Diallo," Mr Thompson said.

The documents argue Mr Strauss-Kahn should be immune under international law even though he had already resigned his post as head of the IMF when the lawsuit was filed. His immunity stood until he left the country, shortly after his case was dismissed, his lawyers argued.

Mr Strauss-Kahn's travel documents are stamped "diplomatic" in bright red lettering, and signed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The documents recite in six languages that the bearer is entitled to international immunities, according to the court documents.

His lawyers, William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, also filed a motion to delete paragraphs in Diallo's lawsuit that detail the encounter as fact from her perspective.

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