Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Fresh rape bid claim 'imaginary'

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, now facing another legal battle

Dominique Strauss-Kahn faces a potential new sexual assault investigation after a young French writer said she would formally accuse him of trying to rape her during a 2002 book interview.

With France debating the former IMF chief's possible return to presidential politics, Strauss-Kahn hit back at author Tristane Banon's plans to take him to court over the attempted rape accusations.

He labelled her account "imaginary" and countered with his own plans to file a criminal complaint of slander.

The sordid exchange may have deep ramifications for the 2012 presidential race in France, where the surprise weakening of the sexual assault case against Strauss-Kahn in New York last week sparked a fierce debate about whether he should return to politics if the American case against him collapses completely.

Before Banon's announcement, polls showed voters were evenly split about whether Strauss-Kahn, 62, should try to revive a career that until recently had him on track to take on conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in the race to be France's next leader.

Strauss-Kahn has been living under house arrest in a 50,000 dollar-a-month (£31,000) town house in the trendy TriBeCa neighbourhood. Once released, Strauss-Kahn had dinner at a pricey Manhattan restaurant.

"To see Strauss-Kahn freed then straight away eat in a luxury restaurant with friends, that makes me sick," Banon told the magazine L'Express.

"I only want one thing, that he comes back to France, with his presumption of innocence, so that we can go before a court."

Banon, 31, said on a 2007 television show that she had been attacked five years earlier by a politician she had interviewed for a book in his apartment. She later identified the man as Strauss-Kahn.

"It finished very violently," she said on the television show. "I kicked him. He opened my bra. He tried to undo my jeans. It finished very badly."

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