Strauss-Kahn returns home to France

Dominique Strauss-Kahn returned home to a mixed welcome in France for the first time since attempted rape accusations by a New York hotel maid unleashed an international scandal that dashed his chances for the French presidency.

New York prosecutors later dropped their case against Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, because of questions about the maid's credibility.



But the affair cost Strauss-Kahn his job at the helm of the IMF and exposed his personal life to worldwide scrutiny that has stained his image and left the French divided over what he should do next. His high-profile return home on Sunday reflects how large he looms here.



Smiling and waving silently, he stepped off an Air France flight Sunday at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport a different man from the one who, just four months ago, had been the pollsters' favorite to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential elections.



Few expect Strauss-Kahn to return to French politics soon, but his supporters have been eagerly awaiting his return after three months of legal drama in the US that they saw as unfairly hostile to him.



"I'm moved, I always believed in his innocence. I wanted very much for this to be over," Michele Sabban, a fellow Socialist Party member, said on i-Tele television.



Residents of Sarcelles, a working class Paris suburb where Strauss-Kahn is mayor, were largely enthusiastic and empathetic about his return.



"I'm happy for him. It's the end of an ordeal. Now ... we should leave him alone a little bit," resident Laurent Giaoui told The Associated Press.



A prominent member of Sarkozy's conservative UMP party, Xavier Bertrand, shrugged off Strauss-Kahn's appearance in Paris. "Like many French people, I have lots of others worries in my head," he said on Europe-1 radio. "I have a hard time imagining" Strauss-Kahn back in politics, he said.



Strauss-Kahn flew in to Paris from New York's JFK Airport early Sunday and gave a brief wave upon leaving the arrivals hall. Pushing a luggage cart, he did not speak to the large crowd.



His wife, respected former TV personality Anne Sinclair, was at his side, beaming widely. Riot police protected him and the area. The two then drove to one of their homes, on Paris' tony Place des Vosges. The crush of reporters was so thick that Strauss-Kahn had trouble reaching and opening his front door.



The last time he tried to take an Air France flight out of JFK, Strauss-Kahn was pulled out of first class minutes before takeoff by police. They were investigating the maid's claim that hours earlier, Strauss-Kahn had forced her to perform oral sex and tried to rape her.



He quit his job, spent almost a week in jail, then six weeks of house arrest and nearly two more months barred from leaving the country before Manhattan prosecutors dropped the case last month, saying they no longer trusted the maid, Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo.



Diallo is continuing to press her claims in a lawsuit. Strauss-Kahn denies the allegations.



Strauss-Kahn faces another investigation in France based on accusations by French novelist Tristane Banon, who says he tried to rape her during an interview in 2003. He calls the claim "imaginary."



Banon's mother, Anne Mansouret, told the AP that Strauss-Kahn's return "is a good thing for my daughter's complaint because he will have to answer to police."



Banon says she didn't file a complaint after the incident because her mother, a regional Socialist official, urged her not to.



Mansouret, who now says she regrets that decision, called it "profoundly indecent" that Strauss-Kahn's homecoming Sunday was like that of a "star."



The AP does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified or come forward publicly, as Diallo and Banon have done.



Strauss-Kahn, known in France by his initials DSK, is also dubbed a "great seducer" by French commentators for his reputation for sexual adventures.



That reputation — and France's overall attitude toward keeping politicians' private lives private — came under scrutiny after Strauss-Kahn's arrest. Many called for more openness about questionable private behavior that might reflect on a politician's public life.



The Socialist Party is now in a fierce campaign for primaries next month to choose its candidate for April and May presidential elections. The front-runners, while relieved that the New York case was dropped, do not appear keen for Strauss-Kahn to make a comeback.



Strauss-Kahn, an eloquent economist and former finance minister, still has many fans in France, and there remains a small chance he could play a role in the presidential campaign. Strauss-Kahn himself has remained silent about his political plans.



In welcoming Strauss-Kahn back many French people expressed concern for his wife — who was more famous in France than her husband before they married 20 years ago — and what she's been through in recent months.



One supporter belted out an ode to Strauss-Kahn in a performance at the Paris airport Sunday morning, accompanied by a Verdi opera played on a portable stereo, before police officers asked him to stop.



"Dominique! Dominique!," shouted Gregoire Vandevelde, who said he was a former student of Strauss-Kahn's at a prestigious economic institute. "He is extremely brilliant, full of humor and very competent, warm with his students," Vandevelde said.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen