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French prosecutors drop Strauss-Kahn rape charges

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-10-02

A French court in the northern city of Lille on Tuesday dropped charges related to an alleged gang rape against former IMF chief and onetime French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn after one of his accusers withdrew her claims.

French prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they were dropping a preliminary investigation into gang rape allegations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and once a prominent Socialist politician in France.

Lille prosecutor Frédéric Fèvre said in a statement that he was dismissing the charges for "lack of information" after one of the two accusers retracted her allegations against Strauss-Kahn, who is still facing sexual misdemeanour charges in France and a civil suit in the United States.

The Belgian escort who accused him of rape wrote to French police in August to say that she had consented to any sex acts and would not be pressing charges.

While state prosecutors have shelved the case, Lille investigative judges could still decide to pursue the allegations that Strauss-Kahn participated in a December 2010 incident in Washington, DC, that prosecutors have said “could be described as gang rape”.

Pimping charges

Although the move offers a partial respite from his legal woes, Strauss-Kahn still faces charges, along with two businessmen and a police chief, of "aggravated pimping in an organised gang" for his alleged involvement in the procurement of prostitutes.

The prominent Socialist politician, who before his legal troubles was widely expected to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency, has admitted to attending orgies in both France and the United States but claims that he did not know the women involved were prostitutes. A French court is due to rule on Nov. 28 on whether the entire inquiry should be scrapped.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Henri Leclerc, said Tuesday that he was confident his client would also be cleared of the pimping charges.

"There is no hint he was involved in pimping,” he said. “You will see that emerge, although right now this is fuelling scandal."

Investigators in the Carlton Affair, as it is known in France -- a reference to a luxury hotel in the northern city of Lille -- are looking to establish whether Strauss-Kahn crossed the line into actively encouraging prostitution.

Having sex with prostitutes is not illegal in France, but involvement in procuring them is.

Spectacular fall from grace

Strauss-Kahn appeared to be on the brink of announcing that he would run on the Socialist ticket against then president Nicolas Sarkozy, who Strauss-Kahn was roundly beating in popularity polls, when New York police arrested him in May 2011 after a Sofitel hotel maid alleged he had tried to rape her when she entered his room. Strauss-Kahn said their liaison had been consensual.

New York prosecutors later dropped the charges following concerns over the credibility of his accuser, Guinean native Nafissatou Diallo. Diallo is now pursuing a civil case against Strauss-Kahn, who has filed a countersuit against her for defamation and malicious prosecution in the United States.

Soon after his return to France, however, Strauss-Kahn faced another accusation of attempted rape from 32-year-old French author and journalist Tristane Banon, who claimed he had attacked her in 2003. Prosecutors said the evidence suggested sexual assault rather than rape and dropped the case in October 2011, saying the statute of limitations had run out.

Strauss-Kahn’s wife, French journalist and art heiress Anne Sinclair, publicly supported her husband’s claims of innocence throughout his recent legal tribulations. That all changed last June, when reports emerged that the couple had separated after 20 years of marriage.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

Date created : 2012-10-02

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