'He's still arrogant': alleged victim offers verdict on Strauss-Kahn

 

Paris

The former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was confronted for more than two hours yesterday by the French writer who accuses him of trying to rape her in 2003.

Tristane Banon, 32, said last night that Mr Strauss-Kahn had "refused" to look her in the eye during the judicial confrontation in the offices of the Paris sexual crime squad.

"He displayed exactly the same arrogance and coldness and self-satisfaction that he displayed [on the French television news 10 days ago]," Ms Banon said in a TV interview.

Asked earlier if Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, had apologised in any way during the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, his lawyer, Henri Leclerc, said: "He has nothing to apologise for."

Such meetings are a standard judicial practice in France, but the length of yesterday's encounter was unusual. No lawyers for either side was present, only investigators.

Afterwards, Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said he had repeated his insistence that the alleged attempted rape was "imaginary". Ms Banon told TF1 news last night that she stood by her allegation that Mr Strauss-Kahn wrestled her to the ground and tried to rape her during an interview for a book in February 2003.

"If I had not managed to fight him off, he would have raped me," she said.

Ms Banon, who is the goddaughter of Mr Strauss-Kahn's second wife, came forward in June after the French politician was accused of attempting to rape a chamber maid in New York. She said she had been persuaded not to go to the police in 2003 by her mother, a friend of Mr Strauss-Kahn and a Socialist local politician.

In a series of interviews, she has alleged that Mr Strauss-Kahn behaved like a "chimpanzee in rut", trying to undress her and putting his hands under her clothes. Mr Strauss-Kahn, who returned to Paris earlier this month after the New York charges were dropped, is reported to have told French investigators two weeks ago that he made "advances" to Ms Banon and tried to kiss her. When she resisted, he said, he did not continue.

French investigators are expected to decide next week whether to continue with the Banon case. Their decision could go in any one of three ways: that there is no case to answer; that a case exists only for sexual assault, which, under French law, would be outside the three-year statute of limitations; or that Mr Strauss-Kahn should be placed under formal investigation for attempted rape.

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