Paris: French prosecutors dropped an
investigation into former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn
today, saying they had prima facie evidence of sexual assault
but the case was too old to prosecute.
Tristane Banon, a 32-year-old author, claimed the
politician tried to rape her in 2003, but prosecutors said the
evidence suggested only sexual assault -- which has a shorter
statute of limitations -- rather than attempted rape.
"Even if a prosecution for attempted rape could not be
launched for lack of sufficient proof, facts that could be
qualified as sexual assault were recognised," the Paris
prosecutor`s office said in a statement.
Under French law sexual assault is a lesser charge than
attempted rape and cannot be prosecuted if a complaint is made
more than three years after the alleged incident. The state
prosecutor has therefore halted its probe.
Banon had already said that if the prosecutor`s office
refused to take up the case she would attempt to bring a
private prosecution, in which case an independent
investigating magistrate would have to reconsider the
Both Banon and Strauss-Kahn, a senior Socialist politician
30 years her senior and a friend of his accuser`s family, have
been interviewed by police.
She claims he lured her to an unfurnished Paris flat on
the pretext of giving her an interview for a book she was
researching, then grappled with her "like a rutting
chimpanzee" while attempting to pull off her jeans.
Strauss-Kahn admitted to police that he had made "an
advance" on the young woman, but insisted he used no violence.
He has lodged a counter-suit for defamation and has
threatened to sue media which repeat the claims.
The former IMF director also still faces a civil suit in
New York, where another young woman, a hotel chamber maid,
claims he tried to rape her in May.
Strauss-Kahn was charged in a criminal case there, but New
York prosecutors abandoned that case amid doubts over the
woman`s testimony. She is, however, pursuing a civil case for
damages, despite the accuser’s furious denials.