miércoles, 18 de mayo de 2011

Strauss-Kahn arrest: Maid 'did not know' IMF leader

  Lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro: "She had no idea who this man was when she went into the room" The maid who accused International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault did not know who he was at the time of the alleged incident, her lawyer says. The woman, 32, told New York police Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in his hotel suite on 14 May and picked him out at an identity parade.
Mr Strauss-Kahn denies all the charges.
An opinion poll suggests 57% in France believe the charges are part of a plot against him.
The maid's lawyer, Jeffrey Shapiro, said his client "had no idea who this man [Mr Strauss-Kahn] was when she went into the room" and only learned his identity the following day.
"The idea that someone would suggest she was involved in some form of conspiracy is ridiculous," he said. "This is someone who has been the victim of a violent act."
Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, is currently on suicide watch at New York's infamous Rikers Island prison. He will be back in court on Friday.
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said Mr Strauss-Kahn is not in a position to run the IMF and an interim replacement should be named.
Support in France The maid is now living through an "extraordinary" trauma and is in hiding, Mr Shapiro says.
"It's not just my opinion that this woman is honest," Jeffrey Shapiro said. "The New York City Police Department (NYPD) reached the same conclusion. This is a woman with no agenda."
Timothy Geithner. Photo: 17 May 2011 Mr Geithner refused to be drawn on the legal challenges facing Mr Strauss-Kahn
He said his client came originally from the West African state of Guinea. She arrived in the US seven years ago, along with her daughter, now 15, and had been in her job for three years.
"There is no way in which there is any aspect of this event which could be construed consensual in any manner," Mr Shapiro said.
However, Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has said defence lawyers believe the forensic evidence "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter".
Public opinion in France appears to be largely on the side of Mr Strauss-Kahn, who until his arrest was considered one of the leading candidates for the French presidential election next year.
An opinion poll for RMC radio, BDM television and the 20Minutes website found 57% of those who replied believed Mr Strauss-Kahn was the victim of a conspiracy.
That number rose to 70% among those who identified themselves as favouring Mr Strauss-Kahn's centre-left Socialist Party.
  • 2006: Publication of Sexus Politicus, book by Christophe Deloire and Christophe Dubois, with chapter on Mr Strauss-Kahn and his tendency to "seduction to the point of obsession"
  • 2007: French journalist Jean Quatremer, Brussels correspondent for Liberation, writes on his blog that Mr Strauss-Kahn "verges on harassment" with his behaviour towards women
  • 2008: Mr Strauss-Kahn admits an affair with a colleague at the IMF; he is cleared of abuse but admits an "error of judgement"
  • 2011: Writer Tristane Banon comes forward to say Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to assault her in 2002; she did not go to the police but did raise the allegation in a TV chat show in 2007, when Mr Strauss-Kahn's name was bleeped out
The philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, a friend of Mr Strauss-Kahn for 25 years, has spoken out in his defence.
"Nothing in the world can authorise the way this man has been thrown to the dogs,"
"I do not know... how a chambermaid could enter on her own the room of one of the most watched people on the planet, against the normal practice in most big New York hotels, which provide for 'cleaning brigades' of at least two people."
Mr Strauss-Kahn is able to leave his cell occasionally and is allowed outside for one hour each day.
According to the NYPD, the maid told officers that when she entered Mr Strauss-Kahn's suite on Saturday afternoon, he emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her and sexually assaulted her.
The woman was able to break free and alert the authorities, a NYPD spokesman added.
Impact on IMF Addressing the Harvard Club in New York on Tuesday, Timothy Geithner said the most important thing for the IMF was that it found a leader to fill Mr Strauss-Kahn's shoes.
Rikers Island prison, file pic Mr Strauss-Kahn is on suicide watch at Rikers Island prison
"He is obviously not in a position to run the IMF," Mr Geithner said.
"It is important that the board of the IMF formally put in place for an interim period someone to act as managing director."
It is the first time that a top official from President Barack Obama's administration has publicly spoken about the impact of Mr Strauss-Kahn's alleged sexual assault.
However, Mr Geithner refused to comment on the case or the details of the charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Mr Strauss-Kahn was in a "very difficult position" and it was "important that the IMF... is able to run effectively".
Since Mr Strauss-Kahn's arrest last Saturday, his deputy John Lipsky has been serving as acting managing director of the global lending agency.