Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Strauss-Kahn: rape bid 'imaginary'

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss Kahn has denied trying to rape French author Tristane Banon during an interview in 2002

Former IMF chief 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 interview.

With France debating Mr Strauss-Kahn's possible return to presidential politics, he hit back at author Tristane Banon's plans to take him to court, calling her account "imaginary" and saying he planned 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 Mr Strauss-Kahn in New York last week sparked a fierce debate about whether he should return to politics if the American case against him collapsed completely.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York in May, accused of raping a hotel maid. He denied wrongdoing and was released without bail last week after questions emerged about the maid's credibility.

Before Ms Banon's announcement, polls showed voters were evenly split about whether Mr 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.

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

"To see Strauss-Kahn freed then straight away eat in a luxury restaurant with friends, that makes me sick," Ms Banon told the magazine L'Express in an account published on Monday. "I only want one thing, that he comes back to France, with his presumption of innocence, so that we can go before a court."

Ms 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 Mr Strauss-Kahn.

Lawyer David Koubbi said Ms Banon had been dissuaded from filing charges by her mother, a regional councillor in Mr Strauss-Kahn's Socialist party.

Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said Mr Strauss-Kahn "has always said that the incident described by Ms Banon since 2007 is imaginary".

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