Meeting may lead to Strauss-Kahn dismissal -lawyer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The prosecutors in the case of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will meet tomorrow with the hotel maid accusing him of sexual assault, in a sign the case may be headed for dismissal, one of her lawyers said yesterday.

Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer for the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, said the Manhattan district attorney’s office requested in a letter that Diallo meet with them at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT) The letter also said that, if she failed to appear, prosecutors would assume she was not interested in discussing the case, Wigdor said.

“This is just another piece of evidence demonstrating what may be the ultimate outcome of this case,” Wigdor told Reuters in a telephone interview from Paris.

“There have been many other facts in this office’s handling of this case that have led myself and (Kenneth Thompson, another Diallo lawyer) to believe that unfortunately the district attorney’s office may dismiss,” he said.

Thompson told the New York Times that the meeting could signal prosecutors are preparing to drop the charges against Strauss-Kahn. Thompson was travelling yesterday and could not immediately be reached.

“If they were not going to dismiss the charges, there would be no need to meet with her,” the newspaper quoted Thompson as saying. “They would just go to court the next day to say, ‘We’re going to proceed with the case.” Erin Duggan, the spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, declined to comment.

There has been widespread speculation that prosecutors would drop the case since late June when they revealed that Diallo had lied repeatedly in her statements and in her application for US asylum, casting a shadow over her credibility.

But Paul Callan, a former New York prosecutor, warned not to read too much into the meeting.

“In high-profile cases, meetings like this are routine” to ensure the accuser is kept abreast of developments, he said.

Diallo, 32, filed a civil claim against Strauss-Kahn last week in New York, and The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that her lawyers had been exploring a deal to scuttle the criminal case in exchange for a monetary settlement in the civil lawsuit. Thompson strongly denied the report.

Strauss-Kahn had been seen as a leading contender in next year’s French presidential election when Diallo accused him of sexual assault on May 14 at the Sofitel Hotel in New York, forcing him to resign as head of International Monetary Fund a few days later.

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