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IMF chief denied bail over sex charges
NEW YORK, May 17 (Agencies):
Published on 17 May. 2011 11:48 PM IST
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the director of the International Monetary Fund, has been denied bail over allegations that he sexually assaulted a housekeeper in a lavish suite at a Manhattan hotel. The decision to deny bail was a surprising and striking defeat for Strauss-Kahn, who was taken to Rikers Island, where he will be held in protective custody in a single-person cell.
Prosecutors had asked the Criminal Court judge, Melissa Jackson, to remand Strauss-Kahn, 62, contending he was a flight risk. They also indicated he might previously have been involved in a similar episode.
‘’Some of this information includes reports he has in fact engaged in conduct similar to the conduct alleged in this complaint on at least one other occasion,’’ said Artie McConnell, an assistant district attorney, adding that the other occasion, which occurred outside the United States, was still being investigated.
As he entered the courtroom, Strauss-Kahn looked just as he had the day before - in a dark full-length coat, hands cuffed behind his back and a stern gaze on his face. He did not enter a plea nor did he speak aloud.
The criminal complaint says that Strauss-Kahn shut the door and prevented the woman from leaving, grabbing her breasts, trying to remove her underwear and grabbing her crotch.
Criminal Court judge Melissa Jackson was concerned the accused was arrested on a flight to France.
Preliminary indications, Mr McConnell said, was that forensic evidence supported ‘’the victim’s version of events’’.
Benjamin Brafman, one of Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, argued that ‘’this is a very, very defensible case. He should be entitled to bail.’’ He suggested that it be set at $US1 million, and said that Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair, who was flying in from Paris, would provide the money..
Mr Brafman did not suggest - as some in the French news media have - that Strauss-Kahn was the victim of a set-up.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn will be held in the prison at Rikers Island.
He indicated that there was evidence that between the time of the alleged attack and his flight, Strauss-Kahn was in the area of the hotel, taking care of other business.
According to the French daily Le Figaro, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers believe he has an alibi - lunch with his daughter, a graduate student at Columbia University, at the time of the alleged rape.
In addition, Mr Brafman said in court, the hotel security found out he was at the airport only after he volunteered where he was. ‘’That is not consistent with someone who is trying to conceal his whereabouts, so he could get on a flight and leave,’’ he said.
But prosecutors said that Strauss-Kahn’s resources, the lack of an extradition treaty between the US and France, and the defendant’s history were all reasons that he should not be granted bail.
Judge Jackson indicated that she was concerned that Strauss-Kahn was stopped at the airport.
‘’When I hear that your client was at JFK Airport about to board a flight,’’ she said, ‘’that raises some concern.’’ She also indicated that she would not reconsider her bail decision, even if Strauss-Kahn were to agree to wear an ankle monitor.
Strauss-Kahn faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
The long-time French Socialist Party figure and former finance minister has been cited in opinion polls for months as the strongest potential challenger to President Nicolas Sarkozy in elections scheduled a year from now.
But that equation has been blown apart by his arrest.
There are two initial Socialist Party favourites to run in Strauss-Kahn’s place. Francois Hollande, polling high, is the jovial self-styled ‘’ordinary guy’’.
But Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry - a woman steeped in local left-wing politics - seems to threaten Mr Sarkozy the most.
Her deputy, Harlem Desir, insisted the Socialists had not been ‘’decapitated or weakened’’. The party is holding urgent talks to decide how to proceed with their primary race to choose a candidate, due to begin next month.

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