Strauss-Kahn released from house arrest

NEW YORK,  (Reuters) – Former IMF chief Dominique  Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest yesterday after  prosecutors said the hotel maid who accuses him of attempted  rape lied to a grand jury and made other false statements.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, still faces charges that he sexually  assaulted the woman in New York but questions about her  credibility appear to be shifting the case in his favour in a  twist that could upend French politics.

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn smiles as he and his wife Anne Sinclair depart a hearing at the New York State Supreme Courthouse in New York yesterday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The former steward of the global economy smiled as he left  court with his wife, Anne Sinclair, at his side.

Until his May 14 arrest, Strauss-Kahn was a strong  potential challenger to Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy  in the 2012 election. Jubilant supporters in the French  Socialist party hoped he might rejoin the presidential race but  some analysts saw his chances as too tarnished.

Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers want the charges dropped. The judge  said prosecutors will reexamine the evidence after they  revealed the maid lied to a grand jury about her actions after  the alleged attack and on tax and immigration documents.

“I understand that the circumstances of this case have  changed substantially and I agree the risk that he would not be  here has receded quite a bit,” Justice Michael Obus told the  court as he released Strauss-Kahn.

“There will be no rush to judgment. The people will  continue to investigate and reexamine the matter as  appropriate.”

Strauss-Kahn, whose house arrest had included electronic  monitoring and an armed guard, agreed to return to court as  needed, including for a July 18 hearing.

His bail payment of $1 million and bond of $5 million were  returned to him but his passport was not, meaning he can travel  only within the United States.

With his resignation on May 19, Strauss-Kahn severed all  his ties to the International Monetary Fund. Christine Lagarde,  who has just stepped down as French finance minister, takes  over the top IMF job on Tuesday.

QUESTIONS
EMERGE

The case has hinged on the accuser, a 32-year-old Guinean  immigrant who cleaned the $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel  hotel in Manhattan where Strauss-Kahn was staying.

Prosecutors found issues with her asylum application, tax  return and statements to the grand jury investigating the  assault case, court documents showed.

Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court “the facts of  the sexual encounter was and is corroborated” but some details  appear to have changed.

The woman initially said Strauss-Kahn assaulted her and she  then cowered in the hallway outside his room until he left and  she felt safe to seek help. Now, prosecutors say, she admits  she cleaned a nearby room and then returned to Strauss-Kahn’s  suite to start cleaning before reporting the incident.

After the dramatic revelations, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer  Benjamin Brafman said he wants the charges dropped.

“We are absolutely convinced that while today is a first  giant step in the right direction, the next step will lead to a  complete dismissal of the charges,” Brafman said.

The woman’s brother told Reuters in Guinea that she was the  victim of a smear campaign.

Her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said after the hearing his  client’s story had never wavered and that Strauss-Kahn had  bruised her badly and tore a ligament in her shoulder.

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