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Molested maid picks out IMF chief in police line-up

Last updated on: May 16, 2011 14:45 IST

Molested maid picks out IMF chief in police line-up

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Betwa Sharma in New York

The maid who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, of sexually assaulting her in his luxury hotel room picked the Frenchman out of a lineup.

Strauss-Kahn was picked out of a police line up by the chambermaid Sunday night, according to media reports.

Strauss-Kahn, a likely candidate for 2012 presidential race in France, has been charged with attempted rape, sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment.

Strauss-Kahn was set to appear before a New York court on Monday to answer the charges, which the IMF chief has denied..

Police allege that Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted the 32-year-old woman Saturday at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan, then quickly headed off to New York airport to board a Paris-bound flight.

He was taken to a police station in Harlem from where he was led away Sunday in handcuffs to a waiting police car and taken to an undisclosed destination. The police later clarified that the IMF chief had no diplomatic immunity.

"Strauss-Kahn will plead not guilty," William W Taylor III, his lawyer, said in a statement.

Strauss-Kahn allegedly sexually assaulted the 32-year-old maid, who happened to be in his $3,000 a night suite at the Hotel Sofitel in Times Square on Saturday afternoon, thinking it was empty.

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Image: Dominique Strauss-Kahn (C) being escorted from a New York Police Department unit.
Photographs: Mike Segar/Reuters
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Molested maid picks out IMF chief in police line-up

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The IMF chief allegedly emerged naked from the bathroom, chased her around the suite to the bedroom and "engaged in a criminal sexual act".

He also allegedly tried to lock her in the bathroom.

Before the incident, it was being widely speculated that Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist politician, had a chance at beating incumbent President Nicholas Sarkozy, who is plagued with all time low ratings.

Observers and rivals have said that the alleged charges will ruin Strauss-Kahn's chances at a political career.

Strauss-Kahn was widely expected to quit his position as the chief of IMF to run in the election.

"The case and the charges mark the end of his campaign for the presidency, and will likely prompt the IMF to ask him to leave his post,"  Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right party, The National Front, said on French Television, as quoted by 'The New York Times'.

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Image: Stories regarding the arrest of Strauss-Kahn on the front pages of tabloids.
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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Molested maid picks out IMF chief in police line-up

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The Economist blogged about Strauss-Kahn living in a $3,000 suite in a Manhattan hotel and taking a first class flight to Paris.

"This is the IMF, the body that imposes austerity on indebted countries and is funded by global taxpayers, and this was the likely leading socialist candidate for the French presidency," it said.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have said that he will plead not guilty to the charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment.

The French government has said that Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty.

"The French government respects two simple principles: that the judicial proceedings are under way under the authority of American justice, according to American law, and the respect for the presumption of innocence," Francois Baroin, spokesperson for the government, said on French television.

The maid, who was not identified, was taken by the police to hospital and was being treated for minor injuries. A spokesman for the hotel said its staff is cooperating with the investigations.

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Image: Sofitel hotel from where IMF chief was arrested.
Photographs: Chip East/Reuters
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Molested maid picks out IMF chief in police line-up

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Strauss-Kahn drove to the airport to catch the Paris bound Air France Flight 23. As he settled down in the first class cabin, two detectives of the Port Authority suddenly boarded the plane and took him out, John P L Kelly, a spokesman for the agency said.

"It was 10 minutes before its scheduled departure," said Kelly. "They were just about to close the doors."

Strauss-Kahn was being housed at the police department's Special Victims Unit.

In Washington, the IMF said, "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."

"The IMF remains fully functioning and operational," said a statement issued by Caroline Atkinson, the IMF's head of external relations.

Wall Street Journal reported that John Lipsky is currently acting managing director of the IMF.

Strauss-Kahn had earlier won praise for his handling of the global financial crisis as the IMF head.

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Image: Two figurines representing France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and Strauss-Kahn.
Photographs: Robert Pratta/Reuters
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Molested maid picks out IMF chief in police line-up

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Strauss-Kahn was, in 2008, also embroiled in a controversy after accusations surfaced of his sexual relationship with one of his subordinates, a Hungarian economist, in the IMF's Africa Department.

He was later cleared of the charge by an internal inquiry. Kahn had then apologised to IMF staff and his wife, US-born French TV personality Anne Sinclair.

"While this incident constituted an error in judgement on my part, for which I take full responsibility, I firmly believe that I have not abused my position," Kahn wrote in an email to IMF staff after the affair became public.

Sinclaire is his third wife. He has four children from two previous marriages.

Strauss-Kahn, had served as France's Minister of Economy and Finance from 1997 to 1999.

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Image: IMF Chairman Dominique Strauss-Khan and his wife Anne Sinclair.
Photographs: Enrique Marcarian/Reuters
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A Port authority spokesperson said, Strauss-Kahn was traveling alone and was not handcuffed during the arrest. The IMF chief "complied with the detectives' directions," Kelly said.

Strauss-Kahn had a meeting planned with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In France's 2007 election, Strauss-Kahn lost the Socialist Party nomination to Segolene Royal, who in turn was defeated by Sarkozy, leader of the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement.

Before his arrest, Sarkozy's team had reportedly started a smear campaign against Strass-Kahn for his luxurious lifestyle.

The IMF on Sunday declined to comment on the arrest of Strauss-Kahn.


Image: IMF MD Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves the New York Police Department in Harlem on May 15, 2011.
Photographs: Allison Joyce/Reuters
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