Strauss-Kahn arrest: IMF head denied sex charges bail

Mr Strauss-Kahn denies the allegations against him

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A court in New York has remanded IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in custody on charges of sexual assault.

The judge said Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, is a flight risk. He was arrested on Saturday after boarding a plane, and accused of trying to rape a hotel maid.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, who had been seen as a front-runner in France's presidential election in 2012, denies the charges.

His lawyer expressed disappointment at bail being denied, but said his client would be exonerated.

"This battle has just begun," defence lawyer Benjamin Brafman told the court.

Prosecutors told the court it was not the first time Mr Strauss-Kahn had been involved in such an incident and argued he had been arrested attempting to flee the country.

Defence lawyer Benjamin Brafman contested this, saying the defendant had not tried to flee the scene and was actually rushing for a lunch appointment.

Start Quote

When I hear your client was at JFK airport about to board a flight, that raises some concerns”

End Quote Judge Melissa Jackson

He added that Mr Strauss-Kahn later called the hotel to say he was at the airport and had left a mobile phone in his room.

'Concerns'

However Judge Melissa Jackson denied the defence's offer to post $1m (£617,000) bail and agree to stay with his daughter in New York until the next hearing on Friday.

"When I hear your client was at JFK airport about to board a flight, that raises some concerns," Ms Jackson said.

The charges relate to an alleged assault at the Times Square Sofitel hotel in New York.

According to the New York Police Department, a 32-year-old maid told officers that when she entered his suite on Saturday afternoon, Mr Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her and sexually assaulted her.

The woman was able to break free and alert the authorities, a NYPD spokesman added.

At the scene

On a rain-soaked Monday morning, the pavements outside the courthouse were blocked by reporters and cameras all waiting to catch a glimpse of this particularly high-profile defendant.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was brought from a holding cell to the courtroom looking pensive in a black overcoat. Cameramen and photographers jostled to try to capture an image of the IMF head and French presidential hopeful.

But instead it was his New York lawyer who spoke to the waiting media after the judge said Mr Strauss-Kahn must remain in jail. Benjamin Brafman is well-known in legal circles in the US. His past clients have included other famous figures such as Michael Jackson and Sean P Diddy.

When Mr Brafman emerged he told reporters that the battle had only just begun.

Later on Saturday Mr Strauss-Kahn was detained on board an Air France flight at New York's John F Kennedy airport minutes before take-off.

The IMF chief underwent medical examinations on Sunday. Police were looking for scratches or any other evidence of his alleged assault.

He was later charged with a "criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment and attempted rape". Police say the maid formally identified him in a line-up.

'Thunderbolt'

Until he was arrested, Mr Strauss-Kahn was considered a favourite to become the Socialist candidate for the French presidency next year.

Opinion polls gave him a good chance of defeating President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Socialist party president Martine Aubry described his arrest as a "thunderbolt" but called for Mr Strauss-Kahn to be presumed innocent.

Tristane Banon in 2004 Writer Tristane Banon alleges Mr Strauss-Kahn assaulted her in 2002

Mr Strauss-Kahn's wife, French TV personality Anne Sinclair, has also protested his innocence.

Meanwhile, another allegation against Mr Strauss-Kahn has emerged. A French writer says she may file a complaint for an alleged sexual assault in 2002.

Tristane Banon, 31, says Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her when she went to interview him for a book she was writing.

"We're planning to make a complaint," Ms Banon's lawyer told AFP news agency. Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have so far not responded to the allegation.

The European Union says the scandal should not affect bail-outs for eurozone countries.

The IMF has played a central role in organising rescue packages for the troubled economies of Portugal and Greece, and Mr Strauss-Kahn had been due to attend an EU finance ministers' meeting in Brussels to discuss the bail-outs.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels says he has gained the trust of countries in Europe which are giving financial assistance, and those which are receiving it.

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