5 Sep 2011

Strauss-Kahn returns home after sex charges dropped

7:31 am on 5 September 2011

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Khan, has returned to France following the collapse of a sexual assault case against him in the United States.

The former IMF chief and his journalist wife, Anne Sinclair, arrived on Sunday at dawn at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, where they faced a throng of journalists and photographers.

Mr Strauss-Kahn has promised to talk about what he has called his "terrible and unjust ordeal".

In May, police hauled the Socialist politician off a plane at New York's JFK airport that was about to leave for Paris and charged him with the sexual assault and attempted rape of the hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo.

The 62-year-old spent nearly a week in jail and was then put under house arrest for six weeks and barred from leaving the United States.

He was also forced to resign as the International Monetary Fund's managing director.

However late last month he walked free when a judge dismissed the charges against him after prosecutors said they could not pursue the case because of his accuser's lack of credibility.

Prosecutors said she had been caught lying on her asylum application form, including about a gang rape she had suffered in her native Guinea.

DNA evidence indicated a sexual encounter did occur between the two in the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan, but Mr Strauss-Kahn's defence team insists it was consensual.

Ms Diallo is pursuing a civil suit against Mr Strauss-Kahn, seeking unspecified damages, while in France, 32-year-old novelist Tristane Banon has filed a complaint alleging he tried to rape her after luring her to a Paris flat in 2003.

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

Chantal Brunel, the head of France's national watchdog on sexual equality, said Strauss-Kahn would remain "an indelible stain on the Socialist party".

But Jack Lang, a former Socialist minister and a neighbour of Mr Strauss-Kahn's on the Place des Vosges, welcomed his return, and said he hoped his great political and economic talent would soon be put to use again.

Before the sex scandal Mr Strauss-Kahn was tipped as a possible favourite to win the presidential election and his return has sparked unease in his party, which is holding a primary to pick a candidate for the 2012 vote.

Party heavyweights have welcomed the withdrawal of charges against him, but many have sought to distance themselves from him.

Mr Strauss-Kahn has not stated what his plans are once back in Paris but many commentators expect him to have some sort of role in next year's election campaign.