Debate over Strauss-Kahn return to politics complicated by French attempted rape accusation
PARIS — A French novelist will file a criminal complaint on Tuesday accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape, her lawyer said, throwing fresh uncertainty into a fierce national debate about whether the former International Monetary Fund chief can return to his country’s presidential race.
A sexual assault case against Strauss-Kahn in New York has been badly weakened by questions about his accuser’s credibility. As a result, France was consumed Monday by the question of whether the longtime Socialist Party politician would revive his dream of running against unpopular conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.
But the political scene was hit by a fresh shock when the lawyer for writer Tristane Banon announced she planned to file the complaint in Paris within a day.
Banon came forward after Strauss-Kahn’s May 14 arrest in New York to accuse him of wrenching open her bra and trying to unbutton her jeans in 2002. Lawyer David Koubbi said Banon had been dissuaded at the time from filing charges by her mother, a regional councilor in Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist party.
Koubbi also had said his client had no intention of pressing charges while the American prosecution was going on because the two cases should be kept separate. Now, Banon is pressing forward, Koubbi told The Associated Press.
Messages of support for the complaint quickly appeared on Banon’s Facebook page.
Before Koubbi’s announcement, the country was split on whether it wanted him back in public life: two polls showed an almost even division between those who thought he should return, and those who believed his political career was over.
The former IMF chief’s re-entry to politics would be a tectonic shift in a campaign already shaken by his arrest on charges of attacking a New York hotel maid. The Socialist had been widely seen as the leading contender in the 2012 election, leading polls in the months before his arrest.