Europe

Strauss-Kahn: Tristane Banon claims investigated

Dominique Strauss-Kahn (file pic)
Image caption Mr Strauss-Kahn was recently freed from house arrest in New York

French prosecutors have started a preliminary inquiry into a writer's claim that former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in 2003.

Detectives have been assigned to investigate the complaint lodged by Tristane Banon.

She says Mr Strauss-Kahn assaulted her in a Paris flat as she attempted to conduct an interview with him.

Separately, he denies charges of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid on 14 May.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was recently freed from house arrest in the US city after the credibility of his accuser's evidence came into question.

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 eight years ago.

He responded by saying he would sue Ms Banon for making false statements.

Under French law, the charge of attempted rape carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail. However, the prosecutors' inquiry may not lead to formal charges.

'Wrestled'

Ms Banon - the god-daughter of Mr Strauss-Kahn's second wife, Brigitte Guillemette - has claimed that during the interview in 2003, 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 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 had been a leading contender to be the French Socialist Party's presidential candidate before his arrest in May.

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.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites