Strauss-Kahn faces 'moment of truth'

Dominique Strauss-Kahn - 18 September 2011 Image copyright AP
Image caption Strauss-Kahn came to the studio with the prosecutor's report

French politician - and former International Monetary Fund head - Dominique Strauss-Kahn has given his first interview since charges of attempted rape against him in the US were dropped.

It was billed "as the moment of truth" by a former lieutenant, and Socialist deputy, Jean Marie Le Guen. "Long overdue" for the French people who were owed an explanation.

In fact, Dominique Strauss-Kahn had waited two weeks to speak in public, being careful - perhaps even told - not to overshadow the first televised debate on Thursday of the main Socialist candidates, who are now running for the presidency in his place.

But in those two weeks a team of advisers - and lawyers - have been heavily involved in the planning of the interview.

There have been bids from every major broadcaster in the world.

In the end they plumped for someone who his loyal wife, Anne Sinclair, believed they could trust - Claire Chazal, a friend at TF1 and a former colleague.

He arrived for the interview through the back entrance of the building, avoiding the small group of protesters who chanted "DSK shame on you" and "TF1 accomplice".

'Moral failing'

What they heard was not a forensic examination of what went on but there was the required humility.

And if the interview was carefully scripted or choreographed - his critics believe it was - there was never any doubt what the main question would be. What really happened in that hotel room?

He must have pondered the answer for weeks. The sexual encounter was a "moral failing on my part" he explained. But "it was not sexual abuse. There were no injuries, no sign of violence, not a scratch".

"You can read it here," he said, waving the prosecutors report.

The measured responses he gave were, at times, interspersed with the slightest hint of that pent up frustration. At one point he slammed the report on the desk, as if he had been storing it up for months.

He saved his biggest criticism for the justice system and the so called "perp" walk. The parading of the perpetrator.

"When you are caught in the jaws of the machine you feel that it can crush you."

And crush him it did.

Before the interview a poll published by Le Journal du Dimanche suggested that 53% of French people had wanted him to announce his retirement from political life.

And yet 64% were still keen to hear his assessment of the economic crisis that has Europe in its grip and his proposed solutions to it.

Frustrating for loyal Socialists who will know, that until the events in May, Dominique Strauss was a very strong candidate for the presidency and is now a bitter loss to their cause.

The reaction to this interview, from his party and the public, will tell us whether any rehabilitation is possible.

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