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Presumed Innocent. Friend, wife, ex-wife and 60% of French people believe Strauss-Kahn's innocent when he's accused of 7 charges


By WcP.Story.Teller - Posted on 01 July 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, International Monetary Fund Managing Director, and his wife Anne Sinclair together at the Senate in Paris

Bernard-Henri Lévy defends friend Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was arrested by New York City Police for allegedly sexually attacking a hotel maid

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(Reuters) - Anne Sinclair, the wealthy and popular journalist married to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has chosen to stand by her man, even though the IMF chief faces charges of attempted rape: "I do not believe for a single second the accusations leveled against my husband."

The prize-winning, blue-eyed television interviewer first met Strauss-Kahn in 1989 at the apex of her career as a political talk-show host on French channel TFI. For years her celebrity largely eclipsed his. She became his third wife in 1996. He is her second husband.

People who know them say they are an affectionate couple who have an easy relationship and like to vacation together with friends in their holiday home in the Moroccan town of Marrakesh.

Sinclair sacrificed her career to his, giving up her popular prime-time Sunday show -- which featured guests from President Bill Clinton to Madonna and every major French political leader -- when her husband was appointed finance minister in 1997. Many on the center-left saw her as an ideal "first lady" if, as expected, Strauss-Kahn sought the Socialist nomination for the 2012 presidential election.

Such dreams were dashed when the managing-director of the International Monetary Fund was arrested Saturday on an Air France plane after a maid in a luxury New York hotel accused him of sexual assault. He has denied the charges.

Sinclair, who had been visiting friends in Paris, jumped to his defense immediately, saying in a statement issued on Sunday: "I do not believe for a single second the accusations leveled against my husband."

She flew to New York, arriving just too late to see him appear in a Manhattan court, where a judge denied him bail and ordered him detained in the grim Rikers Island prison until another hearing Friday.

Born in New York in 1948, Sinclair is the grand-daughter of Paul Rosenberg, one of the most prominent art merchants of the 20th century, and daughter of Robert Schwartz, a Jewish resistance fighter during World War II.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: second wife says New York sex attack 'unthinkable'
She has admitted her former husband had an eye for the ladies but that it was "unthinkable and impossible" he would have raped a chambermaid.

The 62-year old International Monetary Fund chief and French presidential hopeful has been remanded in custody on Rikers Island after being denied a $1 million bail and faces sexual assault charges.

As graphic details of his alleged attack on the 32-year old Sofitel hotel maid emerged, Brigitte Guillemette, whom he married in 1984, leapt to her ex-husband's defence. "The facts related by the American police are not compatible with the man I know and with whom I lived for more than ten years," she said.

Camille, the pair's daughter – one of Mr Strauss-Khan four children – is a PhD student at Columbia University and met her father for lunch in a New York restaurant "minutes after his alleged assault".

Mrs Guillemette said that she did not deny her husband was a charmer. "But that doesn't mean to say he could have done what he is accused of doing. I don't think I've ever seen him lock a door. He's someone who is gentle. Violence is not part of his temperament. He has many faults, but not that one." Referring to the lunch he had with Camille, she said: "Can you imagine that a father could do what they accuse him of and then go for lunch with his daughter a few minutes later?

"It makes no sense. It's unthinkable and impossible," she added.

Regarding suggestions that her ex-husband was framed, Miss Guillemette declined to comment. But she told Le Parisien newspaper: "Since his arrest, I note that the police have changed their version (of events) They first set the facts at around 1pm. Then they learned that wasn't possible as at that time Dominique was lunching with his daughter, so they situated the time at midday." She was also questioned about the intention of a 32-year old French author to press charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault and attempted rape over an alleged incident in 2002. Tristane Banon is Miss Guillemette's god-daughter and was long her daughter's best friend.

"I ask the question: why is a young woman deciding to file a complaint several years after the event, the day when a 25-year prison sentence is hanging over the man she accuses?," asked Miss Guillemette. Miss Banon's lawyer said on Monday she had not filed for charges earlier because she didn't think her complaint would have been "taken seriously and respected".

Miss Guillemette said: "There is now one catastrophe to avert: all these years in prison. And the only thing to do is to hold fast and not break down." She said she wanted to let "Anne" (Sinclair), Mr Strauss-Kahn's third and current wife do the talking from now on.

Mrs Strauss-Kahn has issued just one statement saying she didn't believe "for one second" the allegations against her husband.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy defends IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn: friend of 20 years.."bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere.. it's absurd."

The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote a piece in defence of the head of the International Monetary Fund, published on the Daily Beast news website, Lévy stresses that the accusations of attempted rape levelled against Strauss-Kahn have not yet been proven -

"The case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is unraveling, emphasizing again the importance of the presumption of innocence. By dragging DSK through the mud prematurely, politicians and the press committed gross acts of injustice"

He writes: "I do not know what actually happened … in the room of the now famous Hotel Sofitel in New York … I do not know – no one knows, because there have been no leaks regarding the declarations of the man in question – if Dominique Strauss-Kahn was guilty of the acts he is accused of committing there, or if, at the time, as was stated, he was having lunch with his daughter."

Lévy goes on to question how a chambermaid could have gone alone, "contrary to the habitual practice of most of New York's grand hotels of sending a 'cleaning brigade' of two people, into the room of one of the most closely watched figures on the planet".

He also casts doubt on the account of Tristane Banon, the French writer who claims Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her nine years ago. The philosopher says he holds it against those who "complacently" accept the account of "this other young woman, this one French", who "pretends to have been the victim of the same kind of attempted rape, who has shut up for eight years but, sensing the golden opportunity, whips out her old dossier and comes to flog it on television".

Banon described the attack in a television programme in 2007, but Strauss-Kahn's name was beeped out when the programme was broadcast. On Monday Banon's mother, Anne Mansouret, a Socialist councillor and friend of the Strauss-Kahn family, said she had persuaded her daughter not to press charges at the time of the alleged assault, a decision she says she now regrets.

Lévy writes: "What I do know is that nothing in the world can justify a man being thus thrown to the dogs." He continues: "Nothing … permits the entire world to revel in the spectacle, this morning, of this handcuffed figure, his features blurred by 30 hours of detention and questioning, but still proud." He rails against the American judge who, "by delivering [Strauss-Kahn] to the crowd of photo hounds, pretended to take him for a subject of justice like any other."

Lévy says in the article that the man he calls a friend of 20 years, "bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; a friend to women and, first of all, to his own woman, naturally, but this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate, obviously no, it's absurd."

IMF chief 'feared political opponent would pay a woman more than $1m to allege rape'
Dominique Strauss-Kahn feared that one of his political opponents would pay a woman more than $1million to say he raped her. This extraordinary revelation emerged in Paris as the International Monetary Fund head remained in a New York police cell accused of launching a sex attack on a hotel maid.

As Strauss-Kahn faced a 15-year prison sentence - which would signify the end of his ambition to become French president next year - conspiracy theories abounded. Liberation, the left-wing daily newspaper, published details on off-the-record comments made by Strauss-Kahn as recently as April 28th.

Discussing his plans to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy as Socialist candidate for the presidency in 2012, he said he imagined ‘a woman who had been raped in a car park and who was offered between €500,000 and €1,000,000 to make up such a story.’ Because he was the clear favourite to beat Mr Sarkozy, Strauss-Kahn feared he would be subjected to a smear campaign by the President and his Interior Minister, Glaude Gueant.

Such theories were bolstered by the fact that the first person to break the news of Strauss-Kahn’s arrest was an activist in Mr Sarkozy’s UMP party – who apparently knew about the scandal before it happened.

Jonathan Pinet, a politics student, tweeted the news just before the New York Police Department made it public, although he said that he simply had a ‘friend’ working at the Sofitel where the attack was said to have happened.

The first person to re-tweet Mr Pinet was Arnaud Dassier, a spin doctor who had previously publicised details of multi-millionaire Strauss-Kahn’s luxurious lifestyle in a bid to dent his left wing credentials.

Strauss-Kahn could just as easily been set up by rivals inside the IMF, as well as by rivals within the French political establishment. Michelle Sabban, a senior councillor for the greater Paris region and a Strauss-Kahn loyalist said: ‘I am convinced it is an international conspiracy.’ She added: ‘It's the IMF they wanted to decapitate, not so much the Socialist primary candidate.

‘It's not like him. Everyone knows that his weakness is seduction, women. That's how they got him.’

Even some of Strauss-Kahn’s rivals said they could not believe the news. ‘It is totally hallucinatory,’ said centrist Dominique Paille. ‘If it is true, this would be a historic moment, but in the negative sense, for French political life. I hope that everyone respects the presumption of innocence. I cannot manage to believe this affair.’

And Henri de Raincourt, minister for overseas co-operation in President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, added: ‘We cannot rule out the thought of a trap.’

Referring to recent allegations that Strauss-Kahn was chauffered around Paris in a Porsche and wore 20,000 plus suits, Mr De Raincourt added: ‘I note that this has happened just after the affair of the car and the suit in a short space of time.

‘I am not ruling anything out. If this turns out to have been a trap, let me tell you that it would not be to the credit of those who set it.’

Talks on resolving the European debt crisis have been plunged into disarray after the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and attempting to rape a maid in a New York hotel

Strauss-Kahn, 62, was taken from the first class cabin of a Paris-bound Air France flight at JFK airport by plainclothes officers then formally arrested on charges of a criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment.

The charges threaten to create a leadership vacuum at the IMF, overseer of the global economy, and throw open next year's French presidential election, ending the hopes of the French Socialist who was favourite to beat Nicolas Sarkozy.

The allegation is a major embarrassment to the IMF, which has authorised billions of dollars of lending to troubled countries and played a major role in the eurozone debt crisis. The arrest will cast a cloud over the IMF's role in addressing the rescues and is likely to have an impact on stock markets as traders react to yet more uncertainty in Europe.

Strauss-Kahn had been flying to Europe to discuss the worsening European debt crisis. He had been scheduled to meet the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Sunday and European financial ministers on Monday and Tuesday. He was to have discussed how best to tackle Greece's worsening debt crisis and finalise Portugal's €78bn bailout package.

A senior Greek government official said the arrest would not change the IMF's policy in Greece but could cause delays in the short term. The IMF-led bailout has become increasingly unpopular with other IMF members amid growing doubts about the Greek government's ability and resolve to meet the commitments of the international aid package.

The IMF said on Sunday that it "remains fully functioning and operational". The deputy managing director, John Lipsky, would step in as acting chief and another official would attend today's meeting in Brussels. "Mr Strauss-Kahn has retained legal counsel, and the IMF has no comment on the case; all inquiries will be referred to his personal lawyer and to the local authorities," said a spokesman.

The 32-year-old hotel worker at Manhattan's Sofitel, near Times Square, told police she entered Strauss-Kahn's room to clean it at around 1pm on Saturday. He allegedly emerged from the bathroom naked, ran after her and dragged her into a bedroom where he began sexually assaulting her on the bed.

According to the police account of the "brutal" attack, he locked the door to the suite, then dragged her down a hallway into a bathroom where he assaulted her again. The woman escaped from the room and was later treated in hospital for minor injuries. Police found Strauss-Kahn had left his room seemingly "in a hurry", leaving behind personal items including his phone. He was detained by police at 4pm on a flight about to take off for Paris. A spokesman for the hotel said the woman had worked there for three years, and was "completely satisfactory in terms of her work and behaviour". New York police said the maid later picked Strauss-Kahn out of a lineup, the Associated Press reported.

Strauss-Kahn does not have diplomatic immunity as head of the IMF. After a night in police custody in Harlem, he was expected to appear before a county judge. Under New York state law, a criminal sexual act and attempted rape both carry potential 15 to 20-year prison sentences. Unlawful imprisonment carries a three to five-year sentence.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said: "He denies all the charges against him. And that's all I can really say right now." Brafman is one of New York's most high-profile defence lawyers. His clients have included mobsters and celebrities such as Sean "P Diddy" Combs and ex-New York Giants football star Plaxico Burress.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners, said the arrest was a "huge blow" for the IMF. "DSK has changed attitudes to the IMF. Seven or so years ago it wasn't perceived to be going its job, he's done a lot to reshape it. The timing is very bad, both for the organisation and for the unfortunate degree of uncertainty it will generate in the sovereign debt crisis."

The French left was thrown into disarray. Strauss-Kahn, the favourite to beat Sarkozy in the 2012 election race had been expected to announce his candidacy next month. The allegations mark the end of that hope and will worsen infighting on the left.The Socialist economist Jacques Attali said Strauss-Kahn's 2012 presidential hopes were dead: "Even if he pleads not guilty, which he may be, he won't be able to be candidate for the Socialist primary for the presidency and he won't be able to stay at the IMF."

Strauss-Kahn's arrest provoked nervousness in Greece, the country at the centre of Europe's worsening economic crisis. "This adds uncertainty to the prospect of early resolution. The more uncertainty exists in terms of major institutions, the higher the cost for a country like Greece," Louka Katseli, the minister of labour and social security, told the Guardian. "What is needed are firm decisions [to ensure] financing for the next years," she said.

"The IMF under his stewardship has been more flexible with Greece than its other creditors the EU and ECB," said Theodore Pelagidis, professor or economic analysis at the university of Piraeus. "He was much more understanding of the nature of the crisis. This now makes the situation more complex because one of the principal negotiators is out of the game and people are asking who is next and what should we expect?"

[Globe an Mail] Strauss-Kahn’s downfall is a gift to Sarkozy

The downfall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a morality tale that even Tom Wolfe, the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities, wouldn’t have dared imagine. On the morning of May 14, the head of the IMF was one of the most powerful men on the planet – not only was he running the organization that plays such an important role in the global financial crisis, the odds were that he would become president of France in May, 2012. Polls said Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s victory over Nicolas Sarkozy was almost a done deal.

A few hours later, Mr. Strauss-Kahn was sitting in New York City Criminal Court next to an alleged drug dealer, waiting for his turn to appear before Judge Melissa Jackson.

The man who was about to become the socialist candidate against Mr. Sarkozy is accused of sexually assaulting a chambermaid in his suite at the Sofitel hotel. Now, this is something: The major figure of the French left accused of molesting the most vulnerable worker one can think of – a woman who collects dirty linens and cleans the toilets of a hotel, and a black Muslim immigrant to boot.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn quickly resigned from his IMF post, and his political career is finished. This extraordinary event is convulsing the French political scene. According to polls, many believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn was set up, and conspiracy theories abound to explain the abominable downfall of the man who was, just a little more than a week ago, the most popular politician in France.

Mr. Sarkozy, who unexpectedly saw his most dangerous adversary annihilated by an ugly scandal, is observing a dignified reserve, but behind the thick walls of the Élysée, chances are that the champagne is flowing. Mr. Sarkozy, facing a lesser opponent than Mr. Strauss-Kahn, has a chance to be re-elected despite his current unpopularity, since he is a seasoned politician and a talented campaigner whom none of the remaining potential socialist candidates can match on the hustings and in face-to-face confrontations.

Mr. Sarkozy has another reason to celebrate: His wife, singer and composer Carla Bruni, is reportedly pregnant and due in October. During the spring presidential campaign, the baby would be about six months old – the cutest age of all. And if it’s a girl, it will be even better. (Mr. Sarkozy has three boys and his wife has one). So there you are: In contrast to the socialists’ fallen hero, a loving husband and pater familias cuddling a baby.

Neither François Hollande nor Martine Aubry, the major socialist contenders for the presidential election (the candidate for the Parti Socialiste will be elected in American style primaries this coming fall) has as much clout as DSK had, and no one is able to appeal to the centre-right electorate that would have voted for Mr. Strauss-Kahn because of his reputation as a serious and moderate international economist.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and the man French Socialists hope will be the next occupant of the Elysée Palace, was arrested at JFK airport in New York on Saturday afternoon accused of a sex attack on a Times Square hotel maid earlier in the day. He was taken off an Air France flight by officers from the Port Authority of New York and turned over to Manhattan police, according to a spokesman from the agency. Plainclothes officers boarded the flight at 4.45pm, moments before take-off, and took the 62-year-old out of the first-class cabin and into custody. He had been due to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday.

"It was 10 minutes before its scheduled departure," said John Kelly, a Port Authority spokesman.

Port Authority officers were acting on information from the New York Police Department, whose detectives had been investigating a brutal alleged attack on a woman employee at the Sofitel New York on West 44th Street in the heart of the city's theatre district.

The 32-year-old woman told police that she entered Strauss-Kahn's room at about 1pm on Saturday and he emerged from the bedroom naked, threw her down and tried to sexually assault her, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. She broke free and escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened who called the police. Strauss-Khan was being questioned on Saturday night by the NYPD special victims office. No charges have yet been filed.

For months opinion polls have suggested that Strauss-Kahn is the only potential opposition candidate who might unseat Sarkozy in next year's election, but after the France Soir reports François Hollande, the former Socialist party leader who is also seeking the party's nomination as presidential candidate, leapt to within a few points of him. Hollande's ex-wife, Ségolène Royal, who lost to Sarkozy in 2007, is another Socialist contender to be leader, along with two other hopefuls.

"Can one be leftwing and very rich?" asked Jean-Jacques Bourdin, a commentator on French radio station RMC. "If Sarkozy represented for many the 'bling-bling' right then Dominique Strauss-Kahn is, whether he likes it or not, a representative of the left 'vroom vroom'. "He finds himself today in a very worrying situation for a future socialist presidential candidate. Because in the collective subconscious to be leftwing and to have lots of money… doesn't always go together," said Bourdin.

However, supporters were quick to jump to Strauss-Kahn's defence. Michèle Sabban, vice-president of the Île-de-France socialists, told journalists: "Dominique is staying true to himself. He admits his relationship with money and that's good." Another supporter, local councillor Hussein Mokhtari, added: "So he has to eat sandwiches and drive a 2CV when he is head of the IMF?"

Even political enemies such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the Left party and a rival presidential candidate, dismissed criticism of his wealth. "Being leftwing is a conviction, a commitment; never would a man of the left say to another 'profit and shut up …' I think someone who is rich can also be of the left depending on how his wealth was gained."

Not all French are convinced that the prominent Socialist Party candidate was guilty. Some speculate that it was a setup, intended to reduce him as a threat to current president Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential election next year. In French newspaper Le Figaro, a sympathizer to Strauss-Kahn called the arrest an "international conspiracy" to "decapitate the IMF". According to a survey by broadcast regulator CSA, over half of French respondents believe that Strauss-Kahn was a victim to a set-up.

Yves Tiberghien, a political science professor at UBC, called the incident a "huge shock" and said that many people suspect that it was a setup.

"(The scandal) is so huge that it makes some believe -- even the official press in China that I was reading today -- that this can only be a trap," he wrote in an email from Shanghai. "Was he drugged? Was he trapped? ... how could he find himself in such a situation?"

Noting that Strauss-Kahn is "well-known as a womanizer," Tiberghien said "the pictures of him framed by the NYPD are too hard to believe, too shocking to understand."

Tiberghien emphasized the important role that Strauss-Kahn played in the IMF which has been all but overshadowed by the scandal. "He has probably been the most active head of IMF ever, managing to reposition the IMF as crucial in the wake of the financial crisis, reforming policies of the IMF (for example, capital control), playing a huge role in the Euro crisis," he wrote.

"As well, he was positioned as the most popular candidate of any party for the presidential election in France and poised to announce his candidacy in June. He was the most competent of any politician in terms of economic policy." Tiberghien said that in the political context, his arrest was like "a mini-nuclear bomb for global economic policy-making and for French politics."

In the wake of the scandal, the IMF has appointed John Lipsky to the position of acting managing director. In Tiberghien's view, the loss of Strauss-Kahn could have a negative impact for the rest of the world.

"DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) was the most successful IMF head ever and the only one able to be both competent as an economist and very skillful as a political entrepreneur," he said, noting that he was the one helping countries like Greece and Portugal out of their debt crisis. "The EU will suffer from his absence."

Many in France See ex-IMF Chief as Setup Victim
A poll Thursday suggested that a majority of French, 57 percent, think Strauss-Kahn was the victim of a plot. In a country where low blows pepper the political culture, where people think politicians will do almost anything to keep their perks and where President Nicolas Sarkozy's approval ratings are sinking relentlessly, a plot against the increasingly powerful IMF chief seems plausible to many. "The trap, you cannot not think of it," Cooperation Minister Henri de Raincourt conceded on Radio France International a day after the arrest. "But we must let justice follow its course without any prior assumptions." Strauss-Kahn himself is reported to have voiced fears of a setup involving an alleged rape victim last month with a journalist.

And then there are the precedents.

Former conservative Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is now in a slander trial that grew out of accusations he had wind of a dirty tricks campaign against Sarkozy in 2004 and failed to stop it. Sarkozy has said he believes the scheme was meant to upend his 2007 presidential bid. Doubts are still raised over the 1994 suicide, in his office at the presidential Elysee Palace, of the man considered former Socialist President Francois Mitterrand's closest counselor, Francois de Grossouvre. And there are those who wonder, nearly two decades later, who really aimed the gun in the 1993 suicide of former Prime Minister Pierre Beregovoy.

Strauss-Kahn's fall from grace on May 14 was brutal. It came minutes before his trans-Atlantic flight for a meeting, as chief of the International Monetary Fund, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The 62-year-old Socialist who led popularity polls for next year's presidential race insists he is innocent and has resigned from his job at the IMF to fight the charges.

He was indicted by a grand jury on charges including criminal sexual abuse and attempted rape for allegedly attacking a 32-year-old maid, a West African immigrant, in his suite at the Sofitel. Strauss-Kahn is now under house arrest in Manhattan, watched by armed guards and tracked with an electronic bracelet, as he prepares his defense.

The French press and Internet forums are flooded with questions from those who suspect a setup or are true believers in his innocence.
- Why would he call the hotel from the airport to recover a forgotten cell phone if he was guilty?
- Why not simply arrange for a female companion rather than assault a maid?
- Why would a maid enter Strauss-Kahn's presidential suite unaccompanied?
"At this stage of the investigation, the hypothesis of a manipulation cannot be swept aside," sociologist Michele Fize wrote in Sunday's Le Monde newspaper.

Le Monde also quoted the director general of the top French firm handling housekeeping in luxury hotels as saying a maid could be fired for entering an occupied room alone. Luxury hotel maids know the protocol: knock, wait, announce oneself, knock again, open the door slightly, said Marie-Francoise Litaudon of the Francaise de Service Group.

LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in statement Thursday that he was resigning from his post immediately as he faces charges of attempted rape in New York. "I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me," he said in the statement, released early Thursday U.S. Eastern time. "I want to protect this institution which I have served with honor and devotion, and especially -- especially -- I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence," he said.

A national trauma: France, Strauss-Kahn and US justice; French law bans the taking of 'humiliating' images of prisoners awaiting trial

The arrest and incarceration of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn have provoked a national trauma in France far deeper than anyone could have imagined.

And it is the pictures that did the harm.

Video footage of Mr Strauss-Kahn emerging in handcuffs from a Harlem police station has been repeated endlessly on TV channels. His haggard features stare out from every newsstand. A new photograph - an almost unrecognisable headshot of Mr Strauss-Kahn in prison clothes - will certainly cause even greater shock.

Remember this was a man last photographed getting out of a Porsche in central Paris two weeks ago. He was not just a likely presidential candidate, he was a likely next president. For the social commentator Sophie de Menthion: "The whole nation - all political parties and all social classes - has just stood there aghast. "Thanks to the new technologies, we are watching, in real-time, an event unprecedented in the history of humanity - a man's condemnation to death by media. It creates feelings and reactions which go far beyond what is, essentially, after all just another minor alleged crime."

The most traumatised have been Mr Strauss-Kahn's friends on the left of French politics. Their reaction is one of sheer pain. Jean-Francois Kahn, a left-wing journalist, said he was being "ripped apart inside" in a way he had never felt before. He made the comment on his blog to explain away previous remarks on a radio interview. Asked what he thought had happened in the New York hotel room, he said it could not have been attempted rape: "More likely an act of imprudence, a bit of domestic tupping."

If other Socialist friends have been more circumspect about the alleged act, they are unanimous in their condemnation of the way Mr Strauss-Kahn has been treated in the US.

Former Minister Elisabeth Guigou said the images of her friend being led from the police station were of an "unheard-of brutality, cruelty and violence". Party leader Martine Auby is reported to have broken down in tears. But it was the media intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy who went furthest, delivering an anti-American diatribe in his weekly column in Le Point magazine. "All I know is that there is nothing in this world that permits a man to be thrown to the dogs in this way. And I feel nothing but loathing for the judge who delivered him to that pack of newshounds in front of the police station, on the pretence that he was a citizen like any other." Mr Levy even said the whole story about the attempted rape sounded fishy, because in his experience chambermaids in top New York hotels never work alone, but in teams - a claim that has been roundly denied in the US blogosphere.

His treatment by the New York judge, police and press has reawakened the anti-Americanism that is latent in many French souls. People who certainly condemn the alleged crime, also condemn what they see as vindictive, cowboy-style justice. And, above all, they condemn the images.

Such humiliating pictures would never be taken in France - indeed the law bans "degrading" photographs of prisoners awaiting trial. But, more poignantly, the images are of a man who just one week ago was about as high as a man can be in the eyes of the world. From that, to this. It is a deeply unsettling sight, and therein lies the national trauma.

Presumed Innocent, Anyone?
Now for a few humble thoughts about Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his recent brush with law and journalism, bearing in mind that it's possible indeed, maybe even likely, that he is guilty as the prosecutors charge:

1.) If he is such a womanizer and violent guy with women, why didn't he ever get charged until now? If he has a long history of sexual abuse, how can it have remained no more than gossip this long? France is a nation of vicious political rivalries. Why didn't his opponents get him years ago?

2.) In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes? Can anyone tell me of any heads of nonprofit international economic entities who have ever been charged and convicted of violent sexual crimes? Is it likely that just by chance this hotel maid found the only one in this category? Maybe Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty but if so, he is one of a kind, and criminals are not usually one of a kind.

3.) The prosecutors say that Mr. Strauss-Kahn "forced" the complainant to have oral and other sex with him. How? Did he have a gun? Did he have a knife? He's a short fat old man. They were in a hotel with people passing by the room constantly, if it's anything like the many hotels I am in. How did he intimidate her in that situation? And if he was so intimidating, why did she immediately feel un-intimidated enough to alert the authorities as to her story?

4.) Did the prosecutors really convince a judge that he was a flight risk when he was getting on a flight he had booked long beforehand? What kind of high-pressure escape plan is that? How is it a sudden flight move to get on a flight booked maybe months ago?

5.) Mr. Strauss-Kahn had surrendered his passport. He had offered to stay in New York City. He is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. Did he really have to be put in Riker's Island? Couldn't he have been given home detention with a guard? This is a man with a lifetime of public service, on a distinguished level, to put it mildly. Was Riker's Island really the place to put him on the allegations of one human being? Hadn't he earned slightly better treatment than that? Any why compare him with a certain pedophile from France long ago? That man had confessed to his crime. Mr. Strauss-Kahn has not confessed to anything.

6.) People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid? I love and admire hotel maids. They have incredibly hard jobs and they do them uncomplainingly. I am sure she is a fine woman. On the other hand, I have had hotel maids that were complete lunatics, stealing airline tickets from me, stealing money from me, throwing away important papers, stealing medications from me. How do we know that this woman's word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail? Putting a man in Riker's is serious business. Maybe more than a few minutes of investigation is merited before it's done.

7.) In this country, we have the presumption of innocence for the accused. Yet there's my old pal from the Ron Ziegler/ Richard Nixon days, Diane Sawyer, anchor of the ABC Nightly News, assuming that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty. Right off the bat she leads the Monday news by saying that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is in Riker's... "because one woman stood her ground..." That assumes she's telling the truth and he's guilty. No such thing has been proved and it's unfortunate for ABC to simply assume that an accusation is the same as a conviction. Maybe he's in jail because one person didn't tell the truth. I don't know one way or the other, but I sure know that there has been no conviction yet.

8.) In what possible way is the price of the hotel room relevant except in every way: this is a case about the hatred of the have-nots for the haves, and that's what it's all about. A man pays $3,000 a night for a hotel room? He's got to be guilty of something. Bring out the guillotine.

I don't know Mr. Strauss-Kahn. I have never laid eyes on him in person. He may well, in the future, be found guilty of atrocious conduct towards the complainant and maybe towards others. But, so far, he's innocent, and he's being treated shamefully. If he's found guilty, there will be plenty of time to criticize him and imprison him. But nothing has been proved yet except that the way this case has been handled so far is an embarrassment to this country.

May 20, 2011: Ex-IMF chief bailed under house arrest

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was granted bail after agreeing to post $US1 million ($A942,000) cash, submit to constant surveillance under house arrest and wear an ankle monitoring bracelet as he awaits trial on sexual assault charges.

The leading French politician resigned earlier on Thursday as managing director of the International Monetary Fund, saying he must devote all his energy to trying to clear himself of charges he sexually assaulted and tried to rape a New York hotel maid.

His lawyers, who lost an earlier bid on Monday to see him freed on bail, said he would spend one more night in the notorious Rikers Island jail on New York's East River before being released on Friday under house arrest.

"We want to express our pleasure that the judge has made this decision, it's great relief to the family to be able to have him with them," Strauss-Kahn's lawyer William Taylor told journalists after the hearing. "He is going back to Rikers tonight and we expect he will be released tomorrow," Taylor added.

Judge Michael Obus vowed to release Strauss-Kahn from Rikers only after the former IMF chief also agreed to an insurance bond of $US5 million ($A4.71 million), to surrender all travel documents and to submit to guarded home detention. The 62-year-old will be monitored in a Manhattan apartment 24 hours a days, seven days a week by video surveillance equipment with at least one armed guard with him at all times, a New York court heard.

The bail hearing came just hours after Strauss-Kahn resigned from the IMF, vowing to prove he was innocent of the alleged attack on a 32-year-old chambermaid in his luxury New York hotel suite on Saturday.

Obus was to sign the bail agreement during renewed court proceedings on Friday, paving the way for the money to be handed over and for Strauss-Kahn to be released.

He was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday and will face trial on charges of sexual assault and attempted rape on June 7. An IMF board meeting is under way to discuss options for his successor.

The board's 24 members represent the 187 IMF member nations, either as individuals for the largest economies and IMF shareholders such as the United States, or for regional groupings of smaller economies.

Strauss-Kahn freed from house arrest as case brought into doubt [Video]
The former head of the IMF has been released from house arrest in New York after doubts emerged about the sexual assault case against him. Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn have been questioning the credibility of his alleged victim, a hotel chambermaid. The judge has agreed that his bail conditions should be relaxed.

Letter From District Attorney to Defense in Strauss-Kahn Case
The letter outlines interviews with the hotel housekeeper who had accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn, and raises questions about her version of events that led to his arrest.

Case against Strauss-Kahn on verge of collapse
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Even the prosecutors accept that the credibility of the alleged victim has been seriously damaged. She has admitted that she lied about what happened immediately after the attack, she's lied in her application for asylum and has also admitted that her claim to have been the victim of a gang rape in Guinea was also a lie.

She's lied about her income on her tax return and a recording has surfaced of a phone call she made to a friend in jail the day after the incident in the hotel in which she discussed the possible financial gains to be made by pursuing the charges.

Case against Strauss-Kahn on verge of collapse

...it was investigators for the prosecution who uncovered discrepancies in the [hotel maid's background and her story]. Among the revelations reported by the Times:

* In the day following her accusations against Strauss-Kahn, the woman had a phone conversation with a man imprisoned and charged with possession of 400 pounds of marijuana. In the conversation, which was recorded, she spoke about possible benefits of pursuing the case, two officials told the paper.
* Investigators discovered the imprisoned man was one of several people who deposited around $100,000 in cash in the woman's bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made from around the country - in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania. The woman claimed to know nothing about the deposits, saying they were made by her fiancé and his friends.
* The woman was also paying phone bills to five different companies, though she told investigators that she owned just one phone.
* The woman told investigators that she reported a previous rape on her asylum application, but the application contained no such account.

"She actually recounted the entire story to prosecutors and later said it was false," an official told the AP.

*UPDATE* August 17, 2011 -
Prosecutors may drop charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn
They have been considering dropping the attempted rape charges against the French financier since discovering that accuser Nafissatou Diallo misled them about some facts. A decision is expected Tuesday.

In France, supporters of Strauss-Kahn, who was a leading contender to be the country's next president, are expecting him home any day — as a free man. Christophe Giltay, who has a blog called Champs-Elysees, wrote that people already are talking of his return to Paris as soon as the day after the hearing and of his bright political future: "We know it will be easier to completely clear Dominique Strauss-Kahn than to revive the accusation."

*Update Dec. 21, 2011*

DSK wife named Woman of the Year in French mag

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's wife Anne Sinclair, who stood by the disgraced former IMF chief during his sex scandal, was named Woman of the Year in a poll for a French woman's magazine.

Sinclair, a 63-year-old French journalist and wealthy art heiress, was chosen as the woman who had most "made her mark" in 2011 in the CSA poll for online women's magazine Terrafemina.

She scored 25 per cent support among the 10 female personalities that respondents were asked to rank, followed by current IMF chief Christine Lagarde with 24 per cent and the former contender to be the Socialist party candidate in next year's presidential vote, Martine Aubry, with 23 per cent.

French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy scored 16 per cent support while at the bottom of the list was writer Tristane Banon, who had accused Strauss-Kahn of an attempted rape in 2003, with four per cent.

Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign as the head of the International Monetary Fund following accusations of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York, a scandal that made headlines worldwide.

The charges were dropped in August but the scandal halted his ambitions for the French presidency.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: a comeback
The prominent managing director of the International Monetary Fund, the man who was poised to be the Socialist Party's presidential candidate challenging French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was finished, terminé, in the eyes of many. But yesterday, Mr. Strauss-Kahn made his first foray back into public life, giving a well-publicized speech to a Chinese-based Internet firm, blasting Europe for the eurozone crisis. And on the same day, Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair, was named "Woman of the Year" in a public opinion poll for her "loyalty and courage" in standing by her man.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of Reuters / Charles Platiau, EPA, Sipa Press / Rex Features

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