Strauss-Kahn 'claimed immunity' upon arrest
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Soon after he was arrested on sexual assault charges on May 14, former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn told police he had diplomatic immunity, court papers have shown. When questioned later Strauss-Kahn retracted his claim for immunity.
AFP - Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn initially tried to claim diplomatic immunity when he was arrested over the attempted rape of a hotel maid, police transcripts revealed Thursday.
The transcripts, released by the prosecution, showed that after Strauss-Kahn was led away by police from his Air France flight at JFK airport on May 14, some of his first words were: "I have diplomatic immunity."
Later when being questioned by police downtown, Strauss-Kahn relented when asked if he had some kind of diplomatic status, saying: "No, no, no. I am not trying to use that, I just want to know if I need a lawyer."
The International Monetary Fund, from which Strauss-Kahn later resigned as managing director, said days after his arrest that immunity did not apply in the case because he had been on private business during his stay in New York.
The transcripts, which form part of a Voluntary Disclosure Form requested by defense lawyers, catalog in detail the first few hours of the scandal that ended Strauss-Kahn's 2012 French presidential hopes.
The first transcript relays a phone conversation at 3:42 pm - less than four hours after the alleged sex crime - between Strauss-Kahn and the hotel's lost and found clerk in which he says he left his cell phone behind.
Twenty minutes later, at 4:03 pm, Strauss-Kahn called back, saying: "I want to speak to the person who is bringing back my phone. When will they arrive? I am in the Air France lounge, please call me back at this number."
Authorities previously reported that police who had been called about the attack were listening to the calls from the hotel, helping to locate Strauss-Kahn.
At 4:40 pm, presumably on board the plane - although the location is simply given as Gate 4 jetway - the defendant asked plain-clothes police detective Diwan Maharaj: "Do you have my cell phone?"
He soon realized he was dealing with police officers and when asked to go with them asked: "What for?" The detective replied: "Now is not the time or the place to discuss."
Five minutes later, by this time back at the gate, Strauss-Kahn was told by another police officer: "The NYPD needs to speak with you about an incident in the city at a hotel." There is no response.
By 5:00 pm, Strauss-Kahn was in a police precinct at the airport where he was asked to empty the contents of his pockets and place everything on the table.
As he was handcuffed, he asked: "Is that necessary?" "Yes it is," came the reply. At this point, Strauss-Kahn stated: "I have diplomatic immunity."
"It's not in this passport, I have a second passport," he added. "Can I speak with someone from the French consulate? What is this about?"
Fifteen minutes later, Strauss-Kahn was en route to the Manhattan Special Victims Squad asking to make a phone call and complaining for the third time about the handcuffs, saying: "These handcuffs are tight."
By 5:40 pm, he was downtown and still trying to make a phone call. There was then a gap of more than three hours before the defendant asked to use the bathroom and for a coffee.
At 9:00 pm, Strauss-Kahn demanded to call his lawyer but was told he must wait until the detectives returned.
"Do I need a lawyer?" he asked.
"It is your right to have one in this country if you want. I don't know if you have some kind of diplomatic status," the police officer replied.
"No, no, no. I am not trying to use that, I just want to know if I need a lawyer," said Strauss-Kahn.
By 10:55 pm, the defendant appeared to have spoken with his lawyer as he was asked if he wished to speak with detectives about the incident and replied: "My attorney has told me not to talk. I was ready to talk."
After refusing food for the second time at 11:20 pm, there was a pause until 9:00 am the following morning when Strauss-Kahn asked for some eggs and then 20 minutes later for a sandwich. The transcript, several bits of which were redacted, then ends.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, has been accused of sexually assaulting and trying to rape a woman from Guinea when she came to clean his hotel suite. He has denied all charges and is awaiting trial under house arrest at a Manhattan apartment.
The Frenchman was one of the most influential people in the global economy and widely considered to be a leading contender for the French presidency until his shock arrest.
His arrest and quick resignation from his post as head of the International Monetary Fund threw the global lender into disarray as it grapples with debt crises in the European Union.
Strauss-Kahn's successor is widely expected to be French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde although Agustin Carstens, the governor of Mexico's central bank, is backed by some developing nations.