Prosecutors to drop case against Strauss-Kahn


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The only thing certain about what happened in Suite 2806 of Manhattan's Sofitel Hotel around noon on Saturday, 14 May, is that it won't be for a criminal jury to decide.

Prosecutors in New York last night formally asked a judge for permission to drop the sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in a decision that was as sensational as the arrest of the French political grandee was three months ago.

For the aggressive district attorney's office in Manhattan, whose staff had paraded Mr Strauss-Kahn in handcuffs for the world's media, it was an acceptance that the testimony of his accuser, a hotel maid called Nafissatou Diallo, was not likely to be persuasive beyond reasonable doubt.

For Mr Strauss-Kahn, it means the end of a three-month ordeal that has taken him through the notorious Rikers Island jail and through electronic tagging under house arrest in Manhattan. Today, he is likely to have his passport returned, and in France the question is how soon he will return to political influence within the Socialist party.

Ms Diallo was called last night to a meeting with prosecutors, a meeting her lawyers already suspected would tell her what she had hoped never to hear: that the district attorney would no longer pursue her allegation that Mr Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex and tried to rape her.

In recent weeks, evidence emerged that cast doubt on Ms Diallo's credibility. Prosecutors said they turned up inconsistencies in her application for asylum in the US long before she ever encountered Mr Strauss-Kahn.