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Strauss-Kahn accuser angered by 'hero's welcome'

Staff Reporter

The woman accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her in 2003, has lamented what she said was the "hero's welcome" he was given.

The woman who accused ex-International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her in a Paris flat in 2003, on Saturday lamented what she said was the “hero’s welcome” he was given on his return to France from New York.

“I cannot believe that my country gives a hero’s welcome to a man who has not been cleared,” Tristane Banon said of Strauss-Kahn’s return to France last Sunday after attempted rape charges in the United States were dropped.

“I hear people telling me of their disgust, I need their support to remain upright, yet I am the one who bows my head and stays out of sight while others laugh at the cameras,” the novelist said in a message sent to Agence France-Presse and other media and posted on her Facebook page.

Banon has filed a complaint alleging the Socialist politician tried to rape her after luring her to a Paris flat in 2003.

Strauss-Kahn has said he will sue Banon for defamation, alleging she invented the story to help publicise her writing.

Strauss-Kahn arrived back in Paris to a media frenzy last Sunday—nearly four months after being accused of attempted rape by a hotel maid and a fortnight after the charges were dropped when prosecutors said his accuser lacked credibility.

A horde of journalists and handful of supporters awaited his arrival at the airport and he was again mobbed by media on arriving at his home in the Marais area—a display Banon’s mother described as “indecent” at the time.

The 62-year-old, whose hopes for the French presidency have been torpedoed, still faces a civil suit from his New York accuser as well as a probe into allegations he tried to rape Banon, which he denies.

Defamation case
Strauss-Kahn has filed a defamation suit against the writer.

Calling for a picket in Paris on September 24, Banon wrote, “There is a real problem in this country, things must change.

“Rape and violence against women cannot be trivialised, money and power cannot place someone above the law.”

The 62-year-old resigned as the IMF’s managing director in May after he was arrested at JFK airport and charged with the sexual assault and attempted rape of the Sofitel hotel maid.

Last week he walked free when a judge dismissed charges against him. Prosecutors said they could not pursue the case because the accuser’s lies had made it impossible to prove her accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.

‘Terrible and unjust ordeal’
The respected French economist and former finance minister had been expected to be President Nicolas Sarkozy’s main challenger in 2012 elections before the scandal broke in May but the saga has left his political career in tatters.

His imminent return has caused embarrassment for France’s opposition Socialist Party as it prepares to vote in a primary to choose a candidate to run against Sarkozy in the presidential election next April and May.

“I’m eager to return to my country,” Strauss-Kahn told reporters outside his home in Lower Manhattan on August 23 after the charges against him were dropped, calling the legal saga a “terrible and unjust ordeal”.

“I’ll speak at greater length once I’m back in France.”

In a written statement, he said the three-month-long legal process had been a “nightmare for me and my family”.

Not over
The case against Strauss-Kahn began to unravel weeks after his arrest when prosecutors said his accuser had been caught lying on her asylum application form, including about a gang rape she had suffered in her native Guinea.

Strauss-Kahn’s legal travails however are not yet over.

The New York hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, has filed a civil suit seeking unspecified damages against Strauss-Kahn.—AFP

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