Journalists waiting for juicy soundbytes had to go back hungry and empty-handed. Neither Dominique Strauss-Kahn (62), former IMF Managing Director nor Tristane Banon, 32-year-old journalist and writer who has accused him of attempted rape in a case dating back eight years, had a word to throw to the pack of scribes and cameramen.
The two had their first direct, face-to-face confrontation at a Paris police station since Ms. Banon filed the charges in the wake of the Nafisatou Diallo affair last summer. Both of them did not budge an inch — Ms. Banon claiming that Mr. Strauss-Kahn had tried to rape her, while the former Finance Minister and IMF boss said he had “only tried to kiss” the young woman. The rest is fantasy, Mr. Strauss-Kahn has maintained.
Such an organised confrontation is not uncommon in French justice when two people in a case give different versions. The prosecutor will now have to decide whether or not there is substance in the allegations. He could decide that the alleged crime happened too long ago or that the allegations are flimsy and bring the investigation to a close.
He could also decide that there is sufficient evidence for a full-fledged case to be opened.
Ms. Banon has filed charges for attempted rape rather than sexual assault or harassment. If the prosecutor decides to downgrade the charge to one of harassment, the statute of limitations would kick in, protecting Mr. Strauss-Kahn and letting him off the hook.
Police have already interviewed about 20 witnesses in the case, including Socialist leader and presidential hopeful Francois Hollande.
Ms. Banon first made her allegations public on television in 2007 but took them to magistrates only after Ms. Diallo, a chambermaid at the Sofitel Hotel in New York where Mr. Strauss-Kahn was staying, accused him of sexual assault in May.