‘We won’t let go’

Peter Allen – Daily Mail July 5, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn could be facing up to 15 years in prison in France after a woman’s lawyer lodged a complaint of attempted rape and announced: ‘We won’t let go’.

Tristane Banon, a 31-year-old journalist, was ‘sickened’ to see the former  International Monetary Fund head celebrating the apparent collapse of a rape case against him in New York.

Ms Banon says she was attacked by Mr Strauss-Kahn in a Paris studio flat in 2002, where he allegedly acted like a ‘rutting chimpanzee’ as he tried to pull her clothes off.

Ms Banon’s lawyer David Koubbi confirmed that her complaint – which was posted today and which will be received by prosecutors on Wednesday – was ‘extremely solid and well documented’.

Attempted rape carries a sentence of up to 15 years in France, or more if there are aggravating circumstances, including the use of extreme violence.

Pictures of Mr Strauss-Kahn celebrating his release from house arrest with a meal at an upmarket New York restaurant with his wife, Anne Sinclair, inspired Miss Banon to finally take action.

Both Mr Strauss-Kahn and Ms Sinclair were delighted that a case brought by a chamber maid who says he attacked her in a hotel appeared to have  collapsed because of doubts about her credibility.

But in an interview with L’Express magazine Ms Banon gave chilling details of the alleged attack on her.

‘When I entered that flat, I immediately felt ill at ease,’ said Ms Banon.

‘It was almost empty, white, wooden beams showing, a coffee machine, a round table, with on the right of the lounge, an empty library, and right at the end, a bedroom with a bed.

‘We started talking a bit, he offered me a coffee, I got out my Dictaphone, he wanted us to go on the couch, then asked me to hold his hand, saying “Otherwise I won’t manage,”

‘I wanted to leave. He stopped the Dictaphone, caught me by the arm. I asked him to let me go, and that’s when the fight started.’

Previously, Ms Banon gave a graphic account of the alleged attack in a 2007 television programme, currently posted on the internet, in which she used the  ‘rutting chimpanzee’ description.

She said that she was dissuaded from filing charges at the time by her mother, a regional councillor in Mr Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist party.

Mr Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers responded to the latest allegations by saying he intended to sue Ms Banon for ‘slanderous denunciation’, adding that the alleged events she related were ‘imaginary’.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York in May on charges that he tried to rape the hotel maid, and was released without bail last week.

It has now been claimed that the maid – who has been accused of working as a  prostitute – was aware of Mr Strauss-Kahn’s VIP status and became angry when he refused to pay her for her sexual services.

The French Socialist Party has been torn apart by the latest revelations, with  senior figures still arguing that Mr Strauss-Kahn should be allowed to run for president.

Francois Hollande, who was Party secretary when Ms Banon was said to have been  attacked, said her latest complaint had created an ‘absolutely detestable climate’.

Mr Hollande said : ‘When something happens it’s up to the alleged victim to press charges, and as soon as possible is best.

‘It’s not up to others –  journalists or politicians – speaking on television, to discuss a potential  complaint.’


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