US prosecutors ask judge to drop Strauss-Kahn charges

Lawyers for former IMF chief welcome decision: "We have maintained from the beginning that our client is innocent."

Dominique Strauss-Kahn 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dominique Strauss-Kahn 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK - New York prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss sexual assault charges against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Monday, a stunning reversal that could revive the political future of a man many had seen as the next president of France.
Prosecutors gave up hope they could convict Strauss-Kahn after losing faith in their star witness, Nafissatou Diallo, 32, a hotel maid from Guinea who alleged that Strauss-Kahn emerged naked from the bathroom of his luxury suite on May 14 and forced her to perform oral sex.
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The recommendation for dismissal was filed at the court clerk's office. A Reuters reporter witnessed two members of the prosecutor's office file the papers with the clerk, who confirmed they were a motion for recommendation for dismissal. The filing was to be available online later on Monday.
The motion was filed after a brief meeting between prosecutors, the maid and her lawyers, where Diallo was told the case would be dropped.
"Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case," Diallo's lawyer Kenneth Thompson told reporters after the meeting.
"He has not only turned his back on this innocent victim but all of the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in this case," he said. "If the Manhattan district attorney who is elected to protect our mothers our daughters, our sisters, our wives and our loved ones, is not going to stand up for them when they are raped or sexually assaulted, who will?"
Outside the court, women's rights protesters shouted "New York City, rape capital of America!"
Lawyers for Strauss-Kahn, 62, welcomed the case being dropped.
"We have maintained from the beginning of this case that our client is innocent," Strauss-Kahn's lawyers William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman said in a statement.
"We also maintained that there were many reasons to believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn's accuser was not credible."
Some political supporters were convinced the allegations were part of a set-up meant to destroy his chances of unseating French President Nicolas Sarkozy in next April's election.
Though he is free to return to French politics, his image was damaged and the Socialist party would have to make an exception to allow him into the presidential race at this late date. A poll released in July showed two-thirds of French people do not want him to be a candidate.
He also still faces a civil lawsuit that Diallo filed against him on Aug. 8 and a complaint from a French writer who said he tried to rape her during a 2003 interview.