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Updated: July 2, 2011 02:15 IST

Strauss-Kahn freed from house arrest

John Eligon
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The former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, along with his wife Anne Sinclair, leaves a court in New York on Friday.
The former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, along with his wife Anne Sinclair, leaves a court in New York on Friday.

He had been under house arrest in sexual assault case

The former chief of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was released from house arrest on Friday as the sexual assault case against him moved one step closer to dismissal after prosecutors told a Manhattan judge that they had serious problems with the case.

Prosecutors acknowledged that there were significant credibility issues with the hotel housekeeper who accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in May. In a brief hearing at the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, prosecutors did not oppose his release; the judge then freed Mr. Strauss-Kahn on his own recognisance.

The development represented a stunning reversal in a case that reshaped the French political landscape and sparked debate about morals, the treatment of women and the U.S. justice system.

The case could also alter the political fortunes of Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, who is just a year and a half into his tenure and was facing his most highly publicised case to date.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, was considered a strong contender for the French presidency before being accused of sexually assaulting the housekeeper who went to clean his luxury suite at the Sofitel New York. After his arrest, Mr. Strauss-Kahn resigned from his position at the IMF.

From Mr. Strauss-Kahn's first court appearance on May 16, Mr. Vance's office expressed extreme confidence in its case.

At another court appearance three days later, prosecutors said the victim “offered a compelling and unwavering story” and that the proof against Mr. Strauss-Kahn was “continuing to grow every day.”

Those accounts varied greatly from what prosecutors revealed on Friday. In a letter sent to Mr. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers and filed with Justice Michael J. Obus on Friday, prosecutors outlined some of what they had discovered about Mr. Strauss-Kahn's accuser.

Prosecutors said the woman had admitted lying in her application for asylum from Guinea. She also admitted that her claim that she had been the victim of a gang rape in Guinea was also a lie.

While prosecutors have not yet dismissed the case, Mr. Strauss-Kahn will now be able to move about the country more freely; although prosecutors will retain his passport, most of his restrictive bail conditions have been lifted.

Under those conditions, he was required to stay in a Lower Manhattan town house. He could only leave for certain reasons and had to notify prosecutors when he left.

Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn and the woman, prosecutors now do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself. — New York Times News Service

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