Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Five children among six killed in minibus crash in central France

    Read more

  • Israel identifies ‘missing’ soldier in Gaza

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

  • China steps up communist education to guard against ‘moral decline’

    Read more

Europe

Hearing to test Strauss-Kahn's claims of 'diplomatic immunity'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-03-25

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's claim that he was protected by diplomatic immunity against allegations of sexual assault will be tested in a New York hearing this week, paving the way for possible civil action, it was reported Sunday.

AP - After criminal sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn dissolved last year due to prosecutors’ doubts about his accuser’s reliability, she vowed to get her day in another court.

The hotel maid’s civil case against the former International Monetary Fund chief is now nearing an important point, with a hearing set for this week on Strauss-Kahn’s claim that diplomatic immunity should insulate him from the lawsuit.

The hearing, the first in the case, isn’t intended to weigh the essence of housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo’s allegation that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her when she arrived to clean his luxury suite at Manhattan’s Sofitel hotel last May. The accusation put Strauss-Kahn, then a potential French presidential candidate, in jail for nearly a week and plunged his political career into a tailspin of sexual scandal.

Rather, Wednesday’s hearing is likely to revolve around the complex laws that shield diplomats from prosecution and lawsuits in their host countries. And Strauss-Kahn’s arguments are raising some novel questions about the scope of those laws, experts say.

“This is a very unique set of circumstances, and high-profile, to boot,” said Robert C. O’Brien, a former United Nations official who is now the managing partner of Arent Fox LLP’s Los Angeles office.

Neither Diallo, 33, nor Strauss-Kahn, 62, is expected to attend the hearing in a Bronx state court. It’s unclear when a judge will decide whether the case should be allowed to go forward toward a trial, which Diallo’s lawyers say she eagerly awaits.

“It didn’t happen with the DA (district attorney), but we intend to vindicate Ms. Diallo’s rights,” one of her lawyers, Kenneth P. Thompson, said by telephone.

Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers declined to comment. They’ve previously slammed the suit as an attempt to squeeze money out of him.

Then overseeing the IMF, Strauss-Kahn was in New York to visit his daughter when Diallo said he attacked her. The married Strauss-Kahn has since called the encounter a “moral failing” but insists it wasn’t violent.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office dropped the case in August, saying prosecutors couldn’t proceed on the word of a woman who had lied about her background and wavered about her actions right after the alleged attack. Diallo is adamant that she was truthful about the encounter.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Diallo has done.

When police arrested him, Strauss-Kahn declared that he had diplomatic immunity, according to a police account of his statements. But the IMF soon said he didn’t because he was in New York on personal business. Strauss-Kahn, who resigned his post days later, ultimately didn’t try to assert immunity in the criminal case.

His lawyers have said he was focused then on clearing his name but is claiming immunity now because he doesn’t want to have to defend himself further against the same allegations.

Giving foreign countries’ representatives a legal pass, to show respect and further diplomacy, is an ancient tradition codified in various modern laws.

Strauss-Kahn argues he had complete immunity - including for personal activities - under a 1947 U.N. agreement that afforded that privilege to the heads of “specialized agencies,” which include the IMF. Strauss-Kahn carried a diplomatic travel document saying he was entitled to those immunities, his lawyers note.

The United States isn’t part of the 1947 agreement. But Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers contend that it has such widespread acceptance elsewhere that it has become what’s known as “customary international law,” a principle U.S. courts have recognized.

“Mr. Strauss-Kahn enjoyed absolute immunity under customary international law,” even after he resigned the IMF post but was required to stay in the United States for the criminal case, lawyer William W. Taylor III wrote in a September court filing calling for the suit to be dismissed.

Diallo’s lawyers responded that Strauss-Kahn’s argument “misses the mark completely.” It’s overreaching to claim that the 1947 agreement amounts to an international norm, especially in a country that didn’t sign onto it, and the IMF flatly said Strauss-Kahn didn’t have immunity, Thompson wrote in a filing in October.

If the case survives, it will test Diallo’s claims in a forum with considerably different rules than criminal court.

Prosecutors in criminal cases must prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, while plaintiffs in civil lawsuits need only persuade a judge or jury that a preponderance of the evidence is in their favor. And a defendant can be forced to testify in a civil case, unlike in a criminal one.

The former criminal case against Strauss-Kahn could factor in the civil case, however. Diallo’s lawyers likely would try to introduce the fact that Strauss-Kahn was criminally charged. And his attorneys could try to raise the inconsistencies in her statements to prosecutors, said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor in New Jersey who’s now a defense lawyer with McCarter & English LLP.

Since his arrest, Strauss-Kahn has been mired in other allegations surrounding his sex life.

A French writer came forward to say he’d tried to rape her during a 2003 interview; Paris prosecutors said in October that the case was too old to try, but they said Strauss-Kahn had admitted during questioning to actions amounting to sexual assault.

Then he was questioned by police in Lille, France, last month about a suspected hotel prostitution ring.

Diallo, meanwhile, has struggled with psychological and physical after-effects of her encounter with Strauss-Kahn, Thompson said. She said a ligament in her shoulder was torn, among other injuries.

She hasn’t returned to work or even gone back to the hotel since, her lawyer said.
 

Date created : 2012-03-25

  • UK

    Cambridge students protest Strauss-Kahn invite

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    US hearing for Strauss-Kahn civil case delayed

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Strauss-Kahn to be released from custody

    Read more

COMMENT(S)