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Africa

Strauss-Kahn's wife hopes to visit Wednesday as IMF succession war opens

media Dominique Strauss-Kahn in court with lawyer Benjamin Brafman Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

The wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn hopes to visit him in Rikers Island jail on Wednesday, as top US officials say that it is time for him to give up the leadership of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Former television journalist Anne Sinclair, Strauss-Kahn’s third wife, flew to New York on Monday after telling French media that she did not believe a word of the accusations of sexual assault against her husband.

Strauss-Kahn is “obviously not in the position to run the IMF”, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner declared Tuesday.

Speculation is rife as to who could take over.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde’s name has been raised but there is speculation that the US might bid for the post and that poorer nations may field a candidate.

According to a longstanding agreement, the head of the IMF has always been a European while the head of the World Bank has been an American.

She has been accompanied by a friend of the couple, Anne Hommel, who works for the company that handles the couple’s public relations, according to French newspaper Le Monde.

The IMF chief, who was also expected to bid to become Socialist candidate for the French presidency next year, is under anti-suicide watch in Rikers Island, according to the US’s NBC TV. Among the measure's provisions is a check on his cell every 15-30 minutes.

The alleged victim, an immigrant from Guinea, is reported to be under police protection at a secret location in New York. She has had “her world turned upside down” and is suffering “extraordinary” trauma, according to her lawyer, Jeff Shapiro.

Audio Report

A man who claims to be her brother says that she was “devastated” and in tears after the alleged assault. He complained to the New York Post about French media coverage of the story.

An opinion poll has shown 57 per cent of French people believe that Strauss-Kahn was set up. That opinion is shared by many Guinean men, according to RFI’s Moktar Bah in Conakry, who adds that Guinean women are reluctant to express an opinion

But Guineans in New York will mobilise to support her, Souleymane Diallo of the Pottal Fii Banthal community group told RFI.

“We want to talk to the victim directly … but she is under the control of specialised police,” he said. “Some people want protest marches but we are calling for calm.”

Both the prosecution and the defence appeared to have changed tack on Tuesday.

A source close to the defence told the New York Post that “there may well have been consent”, while lawyer Ben Brafman told the court that evidence “will not be consistent with a forcible encounter”.

The alleged victim denies having consensual sex with him, her laywer Jeff Shapiro told NBC TV Thursday.

Prosecutors say they have physical evidence, including a doctor’s exam made immediately after the incident, which indicates attempted rape. But they have changed the time at which they way the assault took place from about 1.30pm to noon. Strauss-Kahn is said to have checked out at 12.28pm.

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