Strauss-Kahn charges could be dropped this week

August 22, 2011 2:58 am

, NEW YORK, Aug 22 – Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn could be freed this week, as prosecutors reportedly prepared to dismiss explosive charges that the once-powerful French politician tried to rape a hotel maid.

The New York Post, citing sources close to the prosecutors, said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has concluded that the sexual assault charges cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and will ask a New York judge to dismiss them at a hearing on Tuesday.

Nafissatou Diallo, who accused Strauss-Kahn of forcing her into oral sex and trying to rape her when she came to clean his luxury hotel room on May 14, has been summoned to a meeting on Monday with prosecutors.

Kenneth Thompson, a lawyer who represents the 32-year-old Guinean immigrant, said after receiving Vance’s letter that he thought all or some of the charges against Strauss-Kahn could be dropped.

“My interpretation of that letter is that they’re going to announce that they’re dismissing the case entirely, or some of the charges,” Thompson told The New York Times on Saturday.

“If they were not going to dismiss the charges,” he added, “there would be no need to meet with her. They would just go to court the next day to say, ‘We’re going to proceed with the case.'”

But on Sunday, Thompson said Diallo’s court battle was not over yet, telling AFP: “I am not sure what is going to happen, but we hope the DA will stand by Mrs Diallo.”

He added: “She is still very depressed over the turn of events… She wants justice in this case.”

The letter from assistant district attorney Artie McConnell says Diallo has been invited “for the purpose of my explaining to her what I anticipate will occur in court” on Tuesday.

“Due to a variety of circumstances, I am advising you in advance that I will not be able to alter the time and date of this appointment,” the letter says.

Prosecutors refused to comment when contacted by AFP about the Post report. Attorneys for Strauss-Kahn also remained silent.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, who quit as head of the International Monetary Fund after his arrest, has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail.

His attorneys have repeatedly said the charges should be dropped so he can return to France, where until recently he was seen as a frontrunner for the presidency.

Michel Taubmann, the author of a biography about the former French finance minister, said after seeing Strauss-Kahn in New York on Saturday that the ex-IMF chief did not want to “celebrate too quickly.”

“He does not want to think about the future until the court makes its decision,” Taubmann told France-Soir newspaper.

Tuesday’s hearing in New York state court will be the first since prosecutors announced they had serious doubts about Diallo’s credibility.

The Post said that in his motion to dismiss, Vance will review the findings of his four-month investigation, including previously undisclosed information, that put her credibility in question.

The first blow to prosecutors was the revelation that Diallo lied on her asylum application about a gang rape she said took place in her homeland — a lie which experts said would make her an easy target on the witness stand.

On Friday, reports in The Wall Street Journal and the online Daily Beast quoted unnamed sources saying that Thompson had negotiated weeks ago with Strauss-Kahn’s side about dropping the charges in exchange for a cash payoff.

Amid a slew of negative media coverage about Diallo, she and Thompson launched a media blitz in late July to help rehabilitate her public image.

“I want justice. I want him to go to jail. I want him to know you cannot use your power when you want to do something like this,” she told ABC News.

However, it is very unusual for complainants in sex crime cases to go public and legal experts say that Diallo’s multiple statements regarding her allegations could make her even more vulnerable on the stand.

In a further indication that her lawyer thinks the criminal trial will not take place, Diallo has filed a civil suit seeking damages against Strauss-Kahn.

Unless there is a postponement, two main options remain for Tuesday: prosecutors telling the judge they plan to go ahead with the case, or prosecutors moving to dismiss charges.


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