'Strauss-Kahn under suicide watch in prison'

Report: Disgraced IMF chief undergoing mental health evaluations in Rikers Island prison; Strauss-Kahn faces pressure to resign.

Strauss Kahn 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Strauss Kahn 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Jailed International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is under suicide watch in prison, AP reported on Tuesday.
A law enforcement official told AP that Strauss-Kahn was undergoing mental health evaluations, but that he did not try to harm himself.
IMF chief charged with criminal sexual act in New York
Strauss-Kahn is accused of a violent sexual attack on a maid who came to clean his luxury suite at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan on Saturday, and of trying to rape her. His lawyer has said he will plead not guilty. If convicted, he could face 25 years in prison.
The IMF chief is expected to remain in the Rikers Island prison, known for its gang violence, at least until his next appearance in court on Friday, when his lawyers may again request bail.
It could be six months before a trial begins, legal experts said. A law enforcement source said Strauss-Kahn was under suicide watch as a precautionary measure.
The IMF chief has faced growing pressure to quit after his arrest, as some French politicians expressed outrage over his treatment by US authorities.
The battle to succeed Strauss-Kahn heated up when China, Brazil and South Africa challenged Europe's long-standing grip on a job that is pivotal to the world economy.
The IMF said it had not been in touch with Strauss-Kahn since his arrest, but believed it would be important to do so "in due course." Two IMF board sources told Reuters the board would ask Strauss-Kahn whether he planned to continue in his post.
One of the sources said it would be ideal if Strauss-Kahn resigned. The second source said that sentiment was not shared across the 24-member board, which has the authority to remove him.
In the United States, which is the IMF's biggest shareholder, politicians began questioning the viability of his tenure as head of the institution charged with managing the world economy and central to negotiating debt crisis deals.
"I can't comment on the case, but he is obviously not in a position to run the IMF," US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.
John Lipsky, the second in command, is in charge during Strauss-Kahn's absence, but no formal interim chief has been named. IMF sources told Reuters that David Lipton, White House international economic adviser and former deputy treasury secretary, would take Lipsky's deputy position.
Strauss-Kahn's arrest has thrown the IMF into turmoil just as it is playing a key role in helping euro zone states like Greece and Portugal tackle debt woes.
In Europe, Strauss-Kahn was also losing support.
Spanish Economy Minister Elena Salgado cast doubt on Strauss-Kahn's judgment, and said it was up to the IMF chief to make a decision on resignation.
"That is a decision which it is to up to Mr. Strauss-Kahn to take, but the crimes he is accused of are very serious ... . My solidarity first and foremost is with the woman who suffered the attack, if that was what happened," she told reporters.

But in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy urged center-right lawmakers at a closed-door breakfast to show "restraint and dignity" and refrain from comment on the Strauss-Kahn case, participants said.
Many French Socialist leaders voiced outrage at the way Strauss-Kahn, who was considered a front-runner for the French presidency, had been paraded -- handcuffed and unshaven -- by New York police before he had a chance to defend himself in court. Former French Culture Minister Jack Lang called the treatment a "lynching" that had "provoked horror and aroused disgust."
The US justice system, he said, was "politicized" and the judge appeared to have been determined to "make a Frenchman pay." Other senior Socialists said that displaying the IMF chief in handcuffs escorted by burly policemen violated his right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a court.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed such a display was humiliating and would be unfair if a defendant were to be found innocent. "But if you don't want to do the perp walk, don't do the crime," he told reporters.
"I don't have a lot of sympathy for that. Our judicial system works where the public can see the alleged perpetrators," Bloomberg said.
The lawyer for the alleged victim, 32, said she was traumatized and in hiding. He said she was a widow with a 15-year-old daughter, who moved to New York from the West African nation of Guinea about seven years ago, he said.
"She didn't have any idea who he was or have any prior dealings with this guy," Jeffrey Shapiro, a New York personal injury lawyer, told Reuters.
Strauss-Kahn has been in custody since he was marched off an Air France jet on Saturday to face the charges.