Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Strauss-Kahn case lawyers in talks

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was surrounded by media while returning to his rented New York house

Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn have met US prosecutors for what the defence called a productive discussion, but there was no immediate word on what would happen to the sex assault case hit by doubts about the accuser's credibility.

The two sides met privately for about 90 minutes in Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance's offices, but participants were tight-lipped about the exchange, which came five days after prosecutors said the accuser had not been truthful about her background and the aftermath of the alleged attack.

Lawyers for the former leader of the International Monetary Fund called the session with Mr Vance and assistant prosecutors "constructive". Mr Vance's office said only that it was continuing to investigate and that no decisions had been made about the case's future.

Hours later, the woman's lawyer asked Mr Vance to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the matter, citing questions about the way prosecutors have treated the accuser.

In a letter, Kenneth Thompson said he believed the district attorney's office was behind media reports that the 32-year-old woman referred to Strauss-Kahn's wealth in a recorded telephone call to an incarcerated friend.

Mr Thompson said he wanted to ensure her rights "are not further prejudiced by deliberate acts seeking to undermine her credibility".

A Vance spokeswoman said the request was baseless and mischaracterised the work of prosecutors.

Wednesday's discussion in Mr Vance's office came amid intensifying public debate over the allegations, with a police fraternal group and others pressing prosecutors not to drop the matter. Strauss-Kahn was represented by Benjamin Brafman and William Taylor.

Private meetings between prosecutors and defence lawyers are not unusual, but the stakes in the Strauss-Kahn case are especially high. The defence has said it wants an outright dismissal, insisting that the encounter with a Manhattan hotel maid was not forced. Prosecutors must decide whether to forge ahead with a flawed case, seek a face-saving plea deal or cut their losses - a decision fraught with political peril for Mr Vance.

Meanwhile, Strauss-Kahn, who was a leading presidential contender in France before his arrest, faces a July 13 deadline to register in France's Socialist Party primary election - just five days before his next court date. It is unclear whether he might be able to enter the race later and what French voters would think if he did.

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