Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Strauss-Kahn 'has no immunity'

Dominique Strauss-Kahn argued that the civil case should be dismissed because he had diplomatic immunity (AP)

Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn does not have diplomatic immunity from a lawsuit by a hotel maid who claims he sexually assaulted her in his room, according to court papers.

The papers quote the IMF and the US State Department as saying Mr Strauss-Kahn was not immune in the days after the May encounter at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan, New York.

According to the papers filed by lawyer Douglas Wigdor, the Department of State wrote: "The IMF is not seeking to assert any immunities on behalf of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. But our understanding is that immunity in this particular case and with IMF officials is that it would only involve their official capacity and carrying out their duties in their official role. And that doesn't apply in this case."

Mr Strauss-Kahn was initially charged with attempted rape after the maid said he attacked her in his hotel suite and forced her to perform a sex act. The criminal case was dismissed when prosecutors said they had lost faith in her credibility after a series of lies she told them unrelated to the assault allegations.

The maid filed the civil complaint against the one-time French presidential contender when the criminal case was still active.

Mr Strauss-Kahn argued last month that the civil case, pending in the Bronx, should be dismissed because he had diplomatic immunity. His lawyers argued he should be immune under international law even though he had already resigned his post as leader of the IMF when the lawsuit was filed. They said his immunity stood until he left the United States, shortly after his criminal case was dismissed.

Lawyers for the maid, Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo, said the suggestion Mr Strauss-Kahn had immunity was "a transparent attempt to delay these proceedings and should be denied in its entirety as utterly meritless and frivolous". If he had any immunity at all, they argued, he forfeited it when he resigned.

An IMF quote on the issue echoed the Department of State, saying his immunities were limited and not applicable to this case.

Lawyers for Ms Diallo, who came forward publicly in a series of interviews, filed the lawsuit against Mr Strauss-Kahn on August 8. The motion filed on Monday reiterated in graphic detail her version of their encounter. It does 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 give evidence if the maid's case went to trial.

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