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Strauss-Kahn pleads not guilty to sex charges
Former head of the IMF denies charges he assaulted a maid as he appears at New York court.
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2011 17:03

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has pleaded not guilty to charges he sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted on charges including attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.

Wearing a dark suit, Strauss-Kahn, 62, arrived at the courthouse on Monday with his wife, Anne Sinclair, the French television journalist.

The next date for the hearing is July 18.

The 32-year-old maid at the Sofitel, near Times Square in Manhattan, told police that Strauss-Kahn chased her down a hallway in his hotel suite and tried to assault her.

About 100 women dressed as maids protested outside the court, shouting "shame on you".

"Hundreds of reporters and camera people gathered outside the court house for a case that lasted for less than 10 minutes and resulted in not a lot of new information. It was simply a reiteration of charges against Strauss-Kahn," Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from outside the court, said.

"But in the end a very routine court appearance for a case that is anything but routine."

Defence lawyers said on Monday they believed forensic evidence would not support a forcible encounter.

"We intend to defend this case and defend it vigorously but we are going to do so in the court room.
Today Mr Strauss-Kahn entered a plea of not guilty, that's a very eloquent and powerful statement that he made that he denies these charges," Benjamin Brafman, Strauss-Kahn's lead lawyer, said.

"Our judgement, once the evidence is reviewed, is that there is 'no element' of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not credible."

'Preposterous' claim

But Kenneth Thompson, the maid's lawyer, said the notion that a "hard-working single mother" had consensual sex with Strauss-Kahn is "preposterous".

"All of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's power, money and influence will not stop the truth of what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out," he said.

"She is going to come into this courthouse, get into that witness stand and tell the world what [he] did to her."

"Furthermore, according to the victim's lawyer, the suggestion in some press reports that she was part of a sinister plot to take down Strauss-Kahn, was also 'preposterous'," Al Jazeera's Saloomey said.

Strauss-Kahn has maintained his innocence, but the case has already cost him his job and the chance to run for French president in next year's elections.

"We do know as is fairly standard in high-profile rape case like this that the defence team will be digging into her past to look for any kind of information that might suggest that she is anything less than credible," our correspondent said.

Strauss-Kahn is on house arrest under armed guard, after being arrested on May 14 this year.

His appearance on Monday was his first since he was released from jail last month on a $6m bail and bond.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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