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France

Hotel security boss denies plotting Strauss-Kahn arrest

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2011-07-11

The top security boss for the luxury hotel where Dominique Strauss-Kahn is accused of sexually assaulting a maid has responded to allegations that the hotel group colluded with French intelligence officials.

The head of security for Accor, the French conglomorate that manages the Sofitel luxury hotel in New York City, has dismissed suggestions that he and political rivals of Dominique Strauss-Kahn plotted to have the former IMF chief arrested.

Strauss-Kahn was stopped and handcuffed by New York City police on May 15, just minutes before an airplane he boarded was to fly him home. Soon after, he was charged with sexually assaulting a Sofitel chambermaid.

Before his arrest, Strauss-Kahn was widely seen in France as the frontrunner in next year’s presidential elections, in which President Nicolas Sarkozy hopes to win a second term in office.

Questions have been raised about what role the French president’s office may have played in the shocking arrest.

Some have suggested that Sarkozy’s intelligence officers found out about the possible rape incident before US law enforcement officials, and tipped them off.

“To think that we would have, from Paris, influenced New York city’s police, it’s madness!” Accor’s security boss, René-Georges Querry, told the French weekly Journal de Dimanche in an interview that appeared on Sunday.

Questions and answers

Querry’s interview appeared after a Socialist Party member of parliament, François Loncle, helped fuel conspiracy theories cropping up around the affair. “I continue to think that at a certain moment in this story, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was tricked,” the lawmaker told France Info radio last weekend.

"Not everything is clear in the way Sofitel managers and the Accor group have behaved. There may have been connections between the Accor group…and certain French offices.

“I think something happened between Paris and New York…has all the information been given as it should to investigators? Were there instructions coming from Paris?” Loncle provocatively asked, adding he wanted the government to shed light on the events.

Presumably in response to Loncle’s comments, Accor’s Querry told the French weekly that he had indeed called the Elysée presidential palace’s top intelligence officer, Ange Mancini, a personal friend, a few hours after the alleged sexual attack at Sofitel.

But by that time Strauss-Kahn was already in police custody, the security chief insisted. “I only relayed information that was already public in New York,” Querry said.

Accusing the accuser

The new details about the how the French president’s office found out about Strauss Kahn’s detention, have surfaced at a time when his accuser is also making startling headlines.

The latest issue of Journal de Dimanche also carried a report that the chambermaid, a West-African immigrant, was placed into her hotel job with the help of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a reputable humanitarian organization.

The group helps asylum seekers, like Strauss-Kahn’s accuser, find work in their host countries.

Last week, in one of its typical sensationalistic articles, the New York Post daily quoted an unnamed source close to Strauss-Kahn's defense saying that the chambermaid “was doing double duty as a prostitute, collecting cash on the side from male guests.”

In the light of this accusation, the woman’s union said it fully supported her and confirmed that she was placed into her post by the IRC, the Journal de Dimanche wrote. The aid organization itself has declined to comment on the matter.

Date created : 2011-07-10

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