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Complaint Filed As France's Strauss-Kahn Faces New Rape Allegation


Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn (right) and his wife Anne Sinclair leave a New York court on July 1.

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn (right) and his wife Anne Sinclair leave a New York court on July 1.

A lawyer for a French writer has filed a legal complaint against former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for allegedly trying to rape his client during an interview in February 2003.

David Koubbi, the lawyer for Tristane Banon, filed the the complaint in a Paris court on July 5.

Speaking to reporters, he said it accused Strauss-Kahn of "attempted rape -- events of particular violence and particular seriousness."

"I have absolutely no intention of making this a political case," he added.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers previously dismissed the claim as "imaginary," saying the former IMF head had instructed them to bring a countersuit against the writer for slander.

The complaint will be examined by a judge, who will question both Banon and Strauss-Kahn before deciding whether to proceed with an investigation or dismiss the case.

Banon says she had to fight Strauss-Kahn off as he undid her bra and pulled open her jeans in the Paris apartment where she was interviewing him some eight years ago. She was 22 years old at the time.

French writer and journalist Tristane Banon (file photo)
"When I realized that he really wanted to rape me, I started kicking him with my boots," Banon told the French weekly "L'Express" in an interview published on July 4. "I was terrified."

Banon did not go to the police at the time but she mentioned the alleged incident during a television show in 2007. Banon's mother, Anne Mansouret, has said she had discouraged her daughter from filing a complaint at the time. Mansouret said that she now regretted her decision.

Under French law, attempted-rape charges can be filed as many as 10 years after the alleged crime.

U.S. Case

Strauss-Kahn also faces rape charges stemming from a separate case in New York City, amid which he resigned his post as IMF chief.

A maid had accused him of attacking her in his hotel suite on May 14, leading to his arrest on the same day.

Two days later, Banon came forward to say he had tried to sexually assault her nearly a decade before.

But last week, Strauss-Kahn was freed from house arrest in New York as prosecutors said on there were doubts over the credibility his accuser.

Pierre Moscovici, a senior legislator from Strauss-Kahn's Socialist Party, is one of a number of party members who are now questioning the timing of both Banon's claim as well as of the legal filing:

"There is a lot of mystery surrounding this complaint. Why now? One should ask questions about the timing, which is mysterious, at the very moment that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of being cleared in the United States. Why eight years later? What happened? There are a lot of contradictions," he told reporters on July 5.

"We have to respect the workings of the judiciary, but I don't give it a lot of credit. I have the impression that it's something that's being done to complicate things further, possibly to damage an image," he said.

The apparent unraveling of the case against Strauss-Kahn in the United States has led to speculation that he might return to French politics.

Prior to his arrest in New York, Strauss-Kahn was considered as the left's best chance of winning the 2012 presidential election.

However, party spokesman Benoit Hamon said on July 4 the idea that Strauss-Kahn could now run for the presidency was the "weakest" of all possible scenarios.

Meanwhile, Strauss-Kahn’s successor at the IMF, former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, began work on July 5.

In one of her first acts on the job, she signed on to a toughened code of ethics.

compiled from agency reports

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