Strauss-Kahn faces rape accuser

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn had a face-to-face confrontation today with a Frenchwoman who says he tried to rape her.

The two were questioned jointly by investigators deciding whether to pursue the case.

The Paris prosecutor's office is investigating Tristane Banon's claims that he attacked her during an interview for a book in 2003.

Mr Strauss-Kahn calls the claims imaginary and slanderous.

Ms Banon requested a one-on-one meeting, which investigators granted. The two arrived at the police facility today in cars and did not speak to reporters gathered outside.

This kind of confrontation is a practice sometimes used in France to help officials decide if a case is worth pursuing.

Mr Strauss-Kahn quit as head of the International Monetary Fund and saw his chances for the French presidency evaporate after a New York hotel maid accused him of attempted rape in May.

The US case was later dropped amid questions about the maid's credibility, but the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, has filed a civil suit. Mr Strauss-Kahn has claimed he has diplomatic immunity and asked a New York court to dismiss the lawsuit.

Ms Banon has also threatened to sue Mr Strauss-Kahn if Paris prosecutors decide not to go forward with a criminal case against him.

One challenge for Banon's case is that the incident in question happened eight years ago.

Ms Banon has said that Mr Strauss-Kahn invited her to an empty apartment for the book interview, and they ended up tussling on the floor, with the politician trying to open her jeans and bra and putting his fingers in her mouth and underwear.

She has defended her decision not to press charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn at the time of the alleged incident. In 2003, she was 23 years old and Strauss-Kahn was a leading figure in France's Socialist party.