Tue, May 17, 2011
World > Americas > IMF chief faces sex charges

IMF chief jailed without bail in NY hotel-sex case(2)

2011-05-17 00:24:58 GMT2011-05-17 08:24:58(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, background center, head of the International Monetary Fund listens to Assistant District Attorney Artie McConnell, foreground left, as he is arraigned before Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson, right, Monday, May 16, 2011, in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. (AP Photo/Andrew Gombert)

Prosecutors asked the judge to hold Strauss-Kahn without bail, noting that he lives in France, is wealthy, has an international job and was arrested on a Paris-bound plane at Kennedy Airport. He had left the Sofitel hotel before police arrived, leaving his cellphone behind, and appeared hurried on surveillance recordings, authorities said.

Prosecutors said they couldn't force his return from France if he went there.

"He would be living openly and notoriously in France, just like Roman Polanski," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Daniel Alonso, referring to the film director long sought by California authorities for sentencing in a 1977 child sex case. Swiss police arrested him in 2009, but he was freed last year when Switzerland declined to extradite him to the United States.

Defense lawyers suggested bail be set at $1 million and promised that the IMF managing director would remain in New York City. Brafman said Strauss-Kahn wasn't trying to elude police Saturday: The IMF head rushed out of the hotel to get to a lunch date, then caught a flight for which he had long had a ticket, his lawyer said.

"This is not a case of someone who commits a crime, runs to the airport and jumps on the first available plane," Brafman said.

Still, Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson said the fact that Strauss-Kahn was on a plane when arrested "raises some concerns." She ordered him jailed at least until a court proceeding on Friday.

Strauss-Kahn makes an annual tax-free salary as head of the IMF of $420,930, plus an annual "scale of living" allowance of $75,350, according to a 2007 IMF press release.

According to the 2000 biography "Les Vies Cachees de DSK" by Vincent Giret and Veronique Le Billon, Strauss-Kahn's wife, Anne Sinclair, was one of France's highest-paid TV journalists before she gave up her job to avoid a possible conflict of interest when her husband became a government minister in 1997. The biography says Sinclair is also a wealthy heiress, whose grandfather Paul Rosenberg was a prominent modern art dealer before the Second World War.

French newspapers have inventoried the couple's real estate holdings, which reportedly include a six-room apartment in Paris' chic 16th arrondissement; a 240-square-meter apartment on the luxurious Place des Vosges; a home in Marrakech, and a house in Washington.

Strauss-Khan will be held in protective custody in the city's Rikers Island jail because of his high profile, said city Correction Department spokesman Stephen Morello. Unlike most prisoners, who share 50-bed barracks, Strauss-Kahn will have a single-bed cell and eat all his meals alone there. Also, when he is outside his cell, he will have a prison-guard escort.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for 31-year-old French novelist Tristane Banon said she will probably file a complaint alleging Strauss-Kahn sexually attacked her in 2002. Lawyer David Koubbi told French radio RTL that Banon hadn't pressed her claim earlier because of "pressures" but would do so now because "she knows she'll be taken seriously."

The Associated Press is identifying Banon as an alleged victim of sexual assault because she has gone public with her account.

Banon's mother, Anne Mansouret, a regional Socialist official in Normandy, said she had advised her daughter at the time against pursuing her claim.

A French lawmaker from a rival political party also alleged, without offering evidence, that Strauss-Kahn had victimized several maids during past stays at the Sofitel near Times Square.

The hotel issued a statement calling conservative lawmaker Michel Debre's claims "baseless and defamatory." Sofitel management "has had no knowledge of any previous attempted aggressions," the hotel said, adding that it had set up a hotline for workers to report incidents more than a year ago.

McConnell, the assistant district attorney, said in court Monday that New York authorities are working to verify at least one other case of "conduct similar to the conduct alleged." When the judge asked whether the potential other incident occurred in the United States, McConnell said he "believed that was abroad."

In France, defenders of Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister who had topped the polls as a possible candidate in presidential elections next year, said they suspected he was the victim of a smear campaign.

The 187-nation IMF provides emergency loans to countries in severe distress and tries to maintain global financial stability.

(Agencies)

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