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France

Strauss-Kahn may face charges over alleged 2002 assault

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-16

In light of the sexual assault charges filed May 15 against IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, French writer Tristane Banon (pictured) may also seek legal action against him over an incident she says took place in 2002.

REUTERS - A French lawyer said on Monday his client was considering filing a legal complaint against IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn over an alleged sexual incident almost a decade ago.

Lawyer David Koubbi said his client Tristane Banon, a writer, could file a complaint over an alleged incident that took place when she went to interview Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, in an apartment.

“We are considering filing a complaint,” Koubbi said in a text message to Reuters.

Privacy in Europe versus the United States

Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist who has been frontrunner for next year’s French presidential election, was charged in New York at the weekend with sexually assaulting a hotel chambermaid. His lawyer said he would plead not guilty.

Local media seized on the alleged French assault, which the victim said happened in 2002. Major newspapers, including the left-leaning Liberation, Le Parisien and the conservative Le Figaro carried accounts of the incident.

A graphic description of the alleged attack, recounted by Banon herself on a 2007 television programme, was posted on the Internet and widely quoted on French blogs and websites.

In the clip Banon, who was 22 at the time of the incident, says she had asked to talk to Strauss-Kahn for a book of interviews with leading French figures about the "biggest mistake you ever made".

'Rutting chimpanzee'

She told how he had insisted on holding her hand during the interview and then made advances to her. There was no independent confirmation of her version of events.

“It ended really badly. We ended up fighting. It finished really violently," the clip shows her saying. “We fought on the floor. It wasn’t a case of a couple of slaps. I kicked him, he unhooked my bra, he tried to open my jeans,” she said.

The politician acted, she said, like a “rutting chimpanzee”.

Under French law, sexual assault charges must be filed within three years but attempted rape charges can be brought up to 10 years after the alleged attack.

In an interview with French radio RTL, Banon’s lawyer said the charges laid against Strauss-Kahn in New York had brought the 2002 incident back to his client.

“There are a number of elements, facts, which prove what she is saying. So, to the question that some people might legitimately ask: ‘is she making it up?’. The answer is no.”

Banon did not file charges at the time of the alleged assault after her mother, a local Socialist Party councillor, persuaded her against bringing proceedings against a politician who was a family friend. She says she now regrets that decision.

Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret said on French television on Sunday: “At the time there was absolutely no doubt that it had happened. My error at the time was to think that it was a moment when he went off the rails.”

 

Date created : 2011-05-16

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