Prosecutors are expected to drop sexual assault and other charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn at a court hearing on Tuesday.
Lawyers representing Strauss-Kahn’s accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, say she has been summoned to a meeting with prosecutors in New York on Monday, which they believe to be a sign that at least some of the charges, including the most serious, will be abandoned.
Ms. Diallo alleged that Mr. Strauss-Kahn attempted to rape her after she went to clean his hotel suite. Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF, has said the sexual encounter with Ms. Diallo was consensual and accused her of trying to extort money.
Ms. Diallo’s lawyers believe that the Manhattan district attorney’s office will ask the court to drop the charges because her credibility as a witness was damaged when it was revealed she lied on an application for asylum in the U.S. about being raped by soldiers in her native Guinea.
“My interpretation of that letter is that they’re going to announce that they’re dismissing the case entirely, or some of the charges,” Ms. Diallo’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, told the New York Times.
“If they were not going to dismiss the charges 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’” Thompson criticised the decision. “The tone of the letter is consistent with the unfair way the Manhattan district attorney’s office has treated Ms. Diallo throughout this process. It’s as if she is the defendant and Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the victim.” Another of Ms. Diallo’s lawyers, Douglas Wigdor, told the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that the decision to abandon the prosecution was “incomprehensible”.
It is not clear whether all of the charges will be dropped. Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers in New York have rejected any possibility of a plea deal in which he would plead guilty to a relatively minor offence, such as simple assault, and receive a non-custodial sentence.
If the charges are dismissed, Mr. Strauss—Kahn will be free to return to France, three months after he was removed from an Air France flight in New York.
He is still facing a civil suit filed by Ms. Diallo a fortnight ago seeking damages for a “violent and sadistic” attack. Mr. Strauss-Kahn is also under investigation in France after a writer, Tristane Banon, alleged that he tried to rape her in 2002.
The case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn began to collapse when it was disclosed in June that Ms. Diallo had lied on her asylum application and to investigators about other aspects of her background and personal life. Her credibility was also damaged by the revelation that shortly after the alleged rape she called a friend being held at an immigration detention centre in Arizona and spoke of claiming money from Mr. Strauss-Kahn.
Some public figures and women’s groups have urged the district attorney, Cyrus Vance, not to drop the prosecution after Ms. Diallo gave up her right to anonymity and went public with details of the alleged attack after her credibility came into question.
Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2011