Strauss-Kahn's US accuser tries to keep case live

The chamber maid who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault in a hotel room in May used her first press conference yesterday to press her case against the former IMF director and to express her anguish at her circumstances.

In halting English in a Brooklyn church hall crammed with reporters, the housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, offered thanks to everyone who has been supporting her in the case and said she had decided to face the media because of "bad things" that have been said about her that are untrue.

She said that she asks God why she was chosen for the ordeal: "I say, God, why me, why me?"

Earlier this week, Ms Diallo, who is originally from Guinea in West Africa, spent nearly eight hours talking to prosecutors about the case against Mr Strauss-Kahn, accompanied by her lead lawyer, Kenneth Thompson. Her camp appears to be scrambling to avert a decision by the Manhattan District Attorney to drop the seven charges filed against the former IMF director.

Doubts were cast on Ms Diallo's assertions after the DA's office acknowledged they had found some inconsistencies in her story. There were also reports at the time that she had said in phone conversations with a male acquaintance, who is himself in prison, that she recognised Mr Strauss-Kahn was powerful and wealthy and that she might stand to make some financial gain from the affair.

But Mr Thompson has this week come out and told media outlets that he has tapes of those conversations made in the days after the attack showing his client had been misquoted. Instead, he says, the tapes demonstrate that when the man implied there might be financial mileage in her position, Ms Diallo dismissed the notion. The tapes include descriptions of the assault, he said, that were consistent with what she told prosecutors.

If the Diallo camp can restore some of its lost credibility, the outlook for Mr Strauss-Kahn could darken again. After the initial problems with her claims first came to light, he was released on bail amid hopes on his side that the entire case might be dropped. He is not due to be in court for another three weeks.

"We cry every day, we can't sleep," Ms Diallo said, referring to herself and her daughter, adding that "a lot of bad things" have been said about her in recent weeks. "That's why I have to be here to let people know a lot of things people say about is not true," she said. She was meeting reporters for her daughter as well, saying she had promised her that "I am going to be strong for you and for every other woman in the world".

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