Saturday 19 January 2019

Hotel workers protest as DSK arrives at court

Lawyers for the maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault in a New York hotel room have said that she will testify at his trial.

The warning, delivered minutes after Mr Strauss-Kahn entered a 'not guilty' plea to the seven charges filed against him, is the latest indication of how ferocious the trial is likely to be.

The former IMF chief was met by angry hotel workers outside a Manhattan courthouse yesterday.

"She is going to come into this courthouse, get into that witness stand and tell the world what he did to her," a lawyer for the maid, Kenneth Thompson, declared outside the court.


"The victim wants you to know that all of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's power, money and influence throughout the world will not keep the truth about what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out."

Even months before it gets under way and with the window still ajar for a possible plea- bargain, the trial is taking on the air of a circus.

Theatrics outside the court yesterday were further stoked by hotel maids pushing against police barriers jeering Strauss-Kahn as he, accompanied by his defence team and his wife, Anne Sinclair.

The hotel employees, bussed in by their union and most dressed in uniforms they usually wear to work, cried "shame" as he walked past. Wendy Baranello, a hotel union organiser, called the charges "outrageous" and said the accuser "is a hard-working woman... just doing her job".

The arraignment was brief. Strauss-Kahn, who is free on cash and bond bail totalling $6m but must stay in a rented luxury townhouse just blocks from the court house, looked away as the seven charges were read out by a court official.

In a voice that seemed confident and even defiant, he replied "not guilty" when asked how he wished to plead.

Last month, the defence sent a letter to prosecutors saying the case against Strauss-Kahn was over before it had started.

The defence said they had information to "seriously undermine the quality of this prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant in this case".

But there is so far no sign of any wavering on the part of the Manhattan's DA's office. Most legal observers think that while many sexual assault cases are settled with a plea bargain, such an outcome is unlikely here.

For Strauss-Kahn a plea deal would probably involve some prison time and an admission that some coercion was used with the maid. If found guilty of the most serious charges against him he could face up to 25 years in prison.


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