Maid's lawyers fear prosecutor plans to drop charges against Strauss-Kahn

 

Lawyers for the maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault voiced concern yesterday that New York's chief criminal prosecutor may be about to back away from pressing the case against the former IMF chief any further.

An endgame to the extraordinary three-month saga, that began when Mr Strauss-Kahn was taken from a plane at JFK Airport and arrested on suspicion of trying to rape the maid in a Manhattan hotel suite, may indeed be approaching. Prosecutors have invited the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, and her lawyers to a meeting this afternoon ahead of a long-scheduled court hearing on the case tomorrow.

Speculation grew over the weekend that the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr, will reveal plans to ask the judge to accept a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the charges of attempted rape and criminal sexual assault cannot be proven beyond all reasonable doubt because of difficulties with the credibility of Ms Diallo.

If that is Mr Vance's intent, and the judge agrees, Mr Strauss-Kahn would see all the charges lifted and would be free to return to France. On 1 July, he was released from tight home arrest after prosecutors revealed inconsistencies in what Ms Diallo had told them about the circumstances both of the alleged attack and of her gaining asylum to the US from her native Guinea.

Yesterday, Douglas Wigdor, one of the lawyers for the maid, said he still hoped the charges would be sustained. He complained that he and his client had been summoned to today's meeting by a "tersely worded" letter which was "another example of the [district attorney] often treating Ms Diallo as a criminal defendant instead of a victim".

Mr Wigdor was quoted in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche yesterday acknowledging the risk that the entire case might be dropped. "I wonder about [Vance's] motivations," he said, adding that, from where he sat, they were "incomprehensible".

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