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Americas

Diallo gambles with civil case against Strauss-Kahn

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-08-10

Nafissatou Diallo is taking a gamble by filing a civil suit against former IMF boss before a verdict is reached in the criminal case. Watch FRANCE 24’s exclusive interview with her lawyer Doug Wigdor.

Filing a civil case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a high-stakes gamble for the Guinean hotel maid who has accused the former head of the International Monetary Fund of attempted rape.

Nafissatou Diallo is seeking unspecified damages in a civil suit filed against Strauss-Kahn on Monday, a risky move that could jeapordise the ongoing criminal case against him by calling into question the plaintiff's motives.

The civil case gives Diallo's legal team a better chance of a successful prosecution, as criminal trials in the United States require a unanimous jury verdict whereas civil cases only need a majority. Her legal advisers are pushing for the civil case to be heard in the Bronx, where a jury selected from Diallo's predominantly black and low-income neighbourhood would likely be sympathetic to the Guinean native.

A civil suit also offers the prosecution access to a wider variety of evidence, including the defendant’s past.

Doug Wigdor, one of Diallo's lawyers, told FRANCE 24 that Strauss-Kahn's dubious reputation would be laid bare before the court.

“We've spoken to many women who've recounted what he has done to them, both physically and psychologically,” Wigdor said. “In our complaint, we are going to seek to introduce that evidence at trial to show his motivations and her lack of consent.”

But the very act of filing a civil case could fatally undermine the criminal prosecution by exposing Diallo to accusations that she is merely seeking money through the new lawsuit.

"Anytime a complaining witness in a criminal case files a civil case, the defence attorney is going to use that civil case to try to show that the complaining witness is making up her testimony because she wants to win money in her civil case,” Matthew Galluzzo, a New York-based criminal defence attorney, told FRANCE 24.

“So it can somewhat hurt the credibility of the complaining witness in a criminal case when they have that civil lawsuit out there."

Strauss-Kahn's legal team was quick to question Diallo's motive in filing the civil case.

"We have maintained from the beginning that the motivation of [Diallo's lawyer] and his client was to make money," Strauss-Kahn lawyers Benjamin Brafman and William Taylor said in a public statement.

"The filing of this lawsuit ends any doubt on that question," the defence statement continued. "The civil suit has no merit and Mr. Strauss-Kahn will defend it vigorously."
 

Date created : 2011-08-10

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