Strauss-Kahn faces Tristane Banon rape allegation

Archive photo of Tristane Banon
Image caption Ms Banon's claims relate to an incident in Paris nearly a decade ago

French writer Tristane Banon has filed a complaint for attempted rape against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, her lawyer has said.

Ms Banon accuses Mr Strauss-Kahn of trying to assault her as she tried to interview him in a Paris flat in 2003.

Mr Strauss-Kahn said he would sue Ms Banon for making false statements.

He was recently freed from house arrest in New York in a separate alleged case. He denies sexually assaulting a hotel maid in the city on 14 May.

It was shortly after Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York that Ms Banon came forward to say that he had tried to assault her.

She did not go to the police at the time, but did raise the allegation in a TV chat show in 2007, when Mr Strauss-Kahn's name was bleeped out.

Ms Banon's lawyer, David Koubbi, said he had sent a complaint against Mr Strauss-Kahn to Paris prosecutors on Tuesday afternoon.

Under French law, prosecutors will now have to decide whether to launch a criminal inquiry. The charge of attempted rape carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.

"These acts are extremely serious," Mr Koubbi said before he filed the legal complaint. "These events were combined with a violence that was absolutely remarkable for these kinds of cases."

He said the alleged incident took place in February 2003, and not in 2002 as previously reported.

'Word against word'

Ms Banon, 32, has claimed that during the interview, Mr Strauss-Kahn said he would only speak to her if she held his hand.

According to her version of events, she eventually had to fight him off as they wrestled on the floor and he undid her bra and pulled open her jeans.

"When I realised that he really wanted to rape me I started kicking him with my boots. I was terrified," she said in an interview published on Monday in French weekly L'Express.

She said she had not pursued the case eight years ago because at the time, "everyone told me it would never succeed".

But she said that following the allegations in New York there was "perhaps a chance to finally be listened to".

"If I want one day to put an end to this hell that has lasted eight years, it needs to be tried in court," she added.

"I'm well aware that in these kinds of cases, where it's one person's word against another - without even mentioning people who are that powerful - suspects are often released."

Mr Strauss-Kahn's French lawyers said on Monday they had been instructed to file a legal complaint against Ms Banon for making false statements about "imaginary" events.

Presidential bid 'unlikely'

Mr Strauss-Kahn had been a leading contender to be the French Socialist Party's presidential candidate before his arrest in May.

Concerns about the reliability of his accuser in New York have left that case reportedly in trouble, and led to speculation that he might return to French politics.

However, on Monday, Socialist Party spokesman Benoit Hamon said the idea that Mr Strauss-Kahn could now run for the presidency was "the weakest" of all possible scenarios.

Ms Banon's mother, Anne Mansouret, herself a politician from Mr Strauss-Kahn's centre-left Socialist Party, said she had persuaded her daughter not to file a complaint at the time of the alleged incident.

But Ms Mansouret has said she is "revolted" by the gleeful reaction of many men in France to news the case in New York might fail.

Mr Koubbi told L'Express that he and his client had decided to press charges in mid-June, and that the timing of the decision was not linked to Mr Strauss-Kahn's US trial.

He had previously said it would not be filed until "later", to avoid any competition with the New York case against Mr Strauss-Kahn.

"I have always said that the French case and the American case ought not be linked," Mr Koubbi said on Monday.

Ms Banon is the god-daughter of Mr Strauss-Kahn's second wife, Brigitte Guillemette.