In France, allies watch in disbelief at Dominique Strauss-Kahn dishonour

Friends of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in France were stunned yesterday by the New York judge's decision to place the IMF chief in jail pending trial. "This is very, very severe," said the former Europe minister, Pierre Moscovici, one of "DSK's" closest allies in the French Socialist party.

"So far we haven't heard his side of the story. I'm waiting to hear it with a certain disbelief, because I have known him for 30 years, and I've never considered him to be a violent man. So I'm waiting for him to talk, I want him to talk," Mr Moscovici said in a television interview.

French politicians on all sides reacted with similar horror to the photographs of the IMF chief execuitive and former French finance minister in hand-cuffs in New York. Such images are never published in France.

Manuel Valls, a Socialist politician and Strauss-Kahn loyalist, said the images were "an unbearable cruelty ... Political life in France, will now be remembered as being before and after this moment."

The leader of the ruling centre-right party, the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), Jean-François Copé, said the photographs would have a terrible impact on the image of France abroad. "Just think of this photograph being shown over and over again [on TV screens]all over the world," he said.

French politicians and commentators were still having difficulty yesterday in coming to terms with the magnitude of the scandal – a front-runner for the French presidential election jailed for alleged attempted rape in a foreign country.

There was renewed talk on both right and left of a possible plot or "manipulation". One of DSK's closest aides, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, said: "I can't get it out of my head that DSK was warned to expect nuclear war as soon as he took his first steps towards the presidency."

"His close friends cannot believe that he is guilty. [We hope] that he will soon be with us. ... We are hoping that the trauma, in one form or another ... will be surmounted."

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