New Twist in Strauss-Kahn Affair Shocks France

France is in shock again in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn saga, as in the latest twist of the story the Socialist politician and former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could be cleared of accusations of sex crimes against a maid in a New York hotel.

IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images
IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn

At the middle of May, Strauss-Kahn was arrested following accusations that he assaulted a hotel maid and he had to resign from his position as head of the IMF following the scandal.

On Friday the New York Times reported that although forensic tests found evidence of a sexual relationship between him and the woman who is accusing him, prosecutors do not believe much of her accusations.

Many in France have said Strauss-Kahn, a former candidate for presidency, had been framed by people who did not want him to win.

“This is the friend of Dominique Strauss-Kahn talking,” said Martine Aubry, the head of the Socialist party in France, and candidate for the party’s primary elections, “I wish, with all my heart that the American justice establishes the truth… all my affection goes to him, his wife, Anne, and his children.”

But not all comments are as compassionate as Aubry’s.

“The only thing that makes me happy — besides this hope that reappeared in the lives of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Anne Sinclair [his wife] and their entire family — is to imagine the face of Sarkozy and the entire right wingafter they tried using this affair to get rid of the Socialist party on a moral ground,” Claude Bartolone, a socialist deputy told the French TV channel I-Tele.

'We Speak Too Much, and Too Fast'

Other politicians were more cautious, as strong criticism has been raised in May about the way media and politicians have reacted to an ongoing judicial affair.

“One must wait for the American justice’s verdict in Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s case,” Bruno Le Maire, the French right-wing agricultural ministersaid on the French radio channel Europe 1, “this entire story proves that we speak too much, and too fast.”

There are hopes that the New York prosecutor will take these new elements into consideration, Francois Hollande, the former head of the Socialist party and current candidate to the socialists' primary elections said to Le Monde’s newspaper, adding that he is expecting Friday’s afternoon’s court hearing in New York to be a milestone in the affair and to clear Strauss-Kahn of all allegations.

“The American judicial system is capable of accusing someone really fast,” said Francois Pupponi, Strauss-Kahn’s friend and successor as mayor of the Paris suburban town of Sarcelles, “but it can also clear someone just as fast.”

Critics are also pointing towards the media reaction to Strauss-Kahn’s arrest coverage.

In a Le Monde blog, Corinne Lesnes, the newspaper’s Washington correspondent, explained that “this will not help improving the credibility of the American judicial — or media — systems,” while the French TV news channel BFM TV was quoting the New York Post’s "Case Getting Unmaid" article after it qualified the American newspaper as a very critical — yet very informed — tabloid all the case long.

At the same time, I-Tele’s editorialist Claude Askolovitch reminded that before publishing these new elements, the New York Times had, in the past few weeks, drawn an “angelical portrait” of Diallo.

As the campaign for the French Socialist party primary elections started ahead of the May 2012 presidential elections, the big question is: were Strauss-Kahn to be cleared, would he be able to be back in the race in time for the polls?

“If the accusations are taken back… what could keep him away from coming back onto the political scene?” Jean-Louis Borloo, a center-right candidate to the presidential elections said. "He has written to the IMF saying he was quitting the IMF. I don’t recall him writing to the Socialist party.”

Before his May 14th arrest, Strauss-Kahn was leading opinion polls ahead of the presidential election, way ahead current French president Nicolas Sarkozy.