Accuser pushed back so I released my grip: Strauss

Accuser pushed back so I released my grip: Strauss Paris: Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn told police he grabbed the young woman who has accused him of attempted rape, but released her when she resisted, according to a transcript seen by a news agency.

"I tried to take her in my arms. I tried to kiss her on the mouth. She pushed back firmly. She cried out, more or less, 'Are you mad?' I immediately relaxed my grip. She grabbed her things and left the flat, furious," he said.

Yesterday, French prosecutors halted an investigation into young writer Tristane Banon's claim that Strauss-Kahn, a politician and family friend 30 years her senior, had tried to rape her in an unfurnished Paris flat in 2003.

The magistrates said that, while Strauss-Kahn had admitted to acts "that could be qualified as sexual assault", the statute of limitations on such an offence -- more minor than attempted rape -- was only three years.

For 32-year-old Banon's lawyer, the ruling was a partial victory, allowing him to claim that it showed that his client had not invented the incident to smear Strauss-Kahn, as the accused and his supporters once claimed.

"He will have to be satisfied with being an unconvicted sex attacker, protected by the statute of limitation from criminal charges, but not from legitimate suspicion about his behaviour towards women," her lawyer said.

The lawyer, David Koubbi, said the decision "while unsatisfactory, is a first victory for Miss Banon as, after five months of fierce combat, it has been established beyond doubt that her case is not without substance."

Having failed to convince state prosecutors to take up the case, she has not ruled out lodging a personal complaint, in which case an independent investigating magistrate would have to re-examine the evidence.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers argue that the prosecutor's decision to drop the case leaves their client "completely cleared" and supports his claim that, while he "made an advance" on Banon, he had not been violent.

"When someone is the subject of a complaint and this complaint is shelved without charge, that means there's no grounds for prosecution. That's called being cleared," said Frederique Beaulieu.