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Americas

Strauss-Kahn to appear in court as euro dips

media Dominique Strauss-Kahn is transferred from one New York prison to another … Reuters/Allison Joyce

The euro has fallen to a seven-week low after the arrest of French International Monetary Fund, IMF, chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault accusations on Sunday. Strauss-Kahn was set to appear in a New York court on Monday where his lawyers said he would deny all charges against him.

The euro recovered slightly Monday late morning after falling due to traders’ fears that Strauss-Kahn’s absence from the International Monetary Fund would harm rescue packages for Greece and other troubled European economies.

He had been due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then attend a European Union finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Monday.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The IMF’s executive board was due to meet to discuss the European crisis on Monday. Deputy managing director John Lipsky has been appointed acting managing director.

Strauss-Kahn was set to appear in court on Monday after agreeing to “scientific and forensic examination”, one of his lawyers, William Taylor, said.

He “intends to vigorously defend these charges and denies any wrongdoing”, according to another lawyer, Benjamin Brafman.

Brafman and Taylor are high-profile celebrity lawyers. Taylor defended Strauss-Kahn in 2008 in a case involving an extra-marital affair with a female colleague at the IMF. He also represented Michael Jackson when he was accused of child sex and rapper Sean P Diddy Combs on arms and corruption charges.

The woman, who, according to media reports, is of Guinean origin, alleged Stauss-Kahn assaulted her in his suite after coming out of his shower naked.

"She was in the room. She thought it was empty. That's when he approached her from behind and touched her inappropriately. He forced her to perform a sexual act on him," a police spokesman told the AFP news agency.

French writer Tristane Banon on Monday announced that she would press charges against Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault in a 2002 incident. Banon, 31, previously made the allegation in 2007 on television and in an interview with a news website, but she had not made a formal complaint to authorities.

Her lawyer, David Koubbi, says that she took no action at the urging of her mother, who is a Socialist local councillor.

The French press unanimously judged Strauss-Kahn's presidential ambitions to be over, with some papers expressing shock at pictures of the IMF chief in handcuffs when being transferred from one police station to another on Sunday.

Strauss-Kahn’s arrest will have a major effect on the image of France and of the IMF, French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé declared Monday, adding that it is “up to the American justice system to establish the facts”.

France is to host summits of the G8 on 26 and 27 May and the G20 in November. Juppé insisted that the economic groupings will ensure that Strauss-Kahn’s work is covered as the case goes to court.

The Socialist Party is “neither beheaded, nor weakened” by the case, party number two Harlem Désir insisted, while Strauss-Kahn ally Pierre Moscovici declared that the actions don’t seem like the behaviour of the man he has known for 30 years.

“I don”t believe the charges against my husband for a single second,” the IMF chief’s wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, told the media.

Opponents in President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party have been cautious in their response, pointing out that the accused is innocent until proved guilty. Former Sarkozy minister Christine Boutin hinted that the case could be “a trap”.

Far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen went further Sunday, declaring that the accusations are “extremely serious” if true.

“He is definitively discredited as candidate for the top job [of president],” she said.
 

 

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