3 Jul 2011

Strauss-Kahn released from house arrest

10:15 am on 3 July 2011

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been released from house arrest in New York, where he faces facing allegations of attempted rape.

The 62-year-old French politician - who had been seen as a leading candidate for the French presidency - appeared in court in New York on Friday over the attempted rape of a hotel maid.

The BBC reports that, after assessing disclosures by prosecutors from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, a judge rescinded the strict bail terms imposed on Mr Strauss-Kahn, but did order that his passport be retained so he could not travel outside the US.

Among the submissions was information that the maid gave false testimony to a grand jury, omitting the fact that she cleaned another room before alerting a supervisor of her claims of sexual assault.

"I understand that the circumstances of this case have changed substantially and I agree the risk that he would not be here has receded quite a bit. I release Mr Strauss-Kahn at his own recognisance," Justice Michael Obus told the court.

On the court steps, opposing lawyers each maintained their case, with the complainant's lawyer saying that forensic evidence would prove Mr Strauss-Kahn violently assaulted her.

Mr Strauss-Kahn is to appear back in court on 18 July.

Doubts raised over complainant's credibility

The maid claims that Mr Strauss-Kahn chased her down a hallway in his expensive hotel suite in the Sofitel hotel, tried to pull down her pantyhose and forced her to perform oral sex.

However, law enforcement officials have now told US media the accuser has repeatedly lied since the alleged attack on 14 May.

The officials believe the woman lied on her application for asylum in the US, particularly over an allegation that she had been raped while at home in Guinea, in West Africa.

Reaction in France

Before the charges were laid, Mr Strauss-Kahn was a front-runner to be the Socialist candidate in the 2012 French presidential election, and his release without bail has sparked anticipation that he may be back in the race.

The BBC reports that, in political circles, he is again being treated as a potential candidate, with many major figures in the Socialist party lined up to praise him and welcome him back as their standard-bearer.

The last Socialist prime minister of France, Lionel Jospin, describes the latest developments as a thunderbolt, adding "in the opposite direction this time".

The deadline for applying for the party nomination is 13 July - five days before Mr Strauss-Kahn is due to appear in court in New York - but former party leader Francois Hollande says he's not averse to its being extended.