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By John Helmer, Moscow

Dominique Strauss-Kahn — the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and if he is acquitted on sex crime charges, the front-runner to be the next President of France — has yet to speak in his defence, and respond to the indictment lodged in Manhattan Criminal Court last week.

The case has profound implications for European politics, not least of all now that Russia has entered the contest for the IMF succession. Just as the Kremlin supported a Czech, Josef Tosovsky, to run the IMF in 2007, the Russian candidate for Strauss-Kahn’s successor is the head of the Kazakhstan Central Bank, Grigory Marchenko. According to the Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin, “Our principle is that a comprehensive selection process should be held without defining the region from which the new IMF head should come. This means that he [Marchenko] will take part in a selection on a level playing field.”

How the playing field at the IMF was leveled, and Strauss-Kahn removed, are also of principled Russian interest, though nothing official is likely to be said on this point until later, and only then in the event that incontrovertible evidence is produced and corroborated to warrant Strauss-Kahn’s innocence, if not of a sex act, then of a crime.

There is enough time for Strauss-Kahn to have his day in court, for the possibility that the jury will rule against conviction, for Kahn to return to France, and for him to compete in next year’s presidential election. Should he be acquitted in New York, he may be judged in Paris to have triumphed – and not only in (over) US justice. For the time being, though, his right to the presumption of innocence has been disregarded in the US, while in France, his detractors and political rivals – within the Socialist Party, as well as among Sarkozy’s political allies – point to the victim’s right to the credibility of her complaint. That right is qualified, however, by the anonymity with which she is cloaked.

In time, the accused will have the right to challenge his accuser. In the meantime, it is the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Junior, the Sofitel management, and the New York media who have been doing all the alleging and accusing.

The only official claims for which there is purported evidence to charge Strauss-Kahn with crimes are those of the Criminal Complaint, No. 1225782, dated May 16, and signed by Detective Steven Lane of the “Detective Boro Manhattan Special Victims Squad”. Here is a copy of the original, provided by the Manhattan Disttrict Attorney’s office. Note that six statutory violations are charged, with seven criminal counts, including two counts of a “criminal sexual act in the first degree”.

Note also that the crimes are alleged by Detective Lane to have been committed “at about 12:00 hours”, and to have included “oral sexual conduct and anal sexual conduct with another person by forcible compulsion”.

On May 19, following a grand jury investigation of the victim’s allegations, and of the police evidence, Indictment No. 2011NY035773 was filed in court by District Attorney Vance. The press release by Vance summarizes what was criminal about what allegedly happened: “According to the documents filed in court, on May 14, 2011, STRAUSS-KAHN shut the door of his hotel room, thereby preventing the victim, a member of the hotel’s room attendant staff, from leaving. He grabbed the victim’s chest without consent, attempted to remove her pantyhose, and forcibly grabbed the victim’s vaginal area. His penis made contact with the victim’s mouth twice through the use of force.”

In several important respects, however, the evidence claimed by the police has been abandoned or changed. So too have several of the prosecutor’s claims, and at least one of the most important criminal charges.

Accordingly, to a naïve observer with limited capacity to understand luxury hotel suites, human anatomy, sex acts, criminal conduct, and the current relationships between President Sarkozy and the Obama Administration, these questions are likely to occur.

1. If the alleged crimes occurred at around 12 noon, is it correct that Strauss-Kahn checked out of the Sofitel less than 30 minutes later, paying his bill by his own credit-card, with time-stamp evidence of the time of the checkout and his departure?
2. If Strauss-Kahn is guilty as charged of “Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree”” for how many seconds or minutes did this crime continue between Detective Lane’s report of 12 noon and the checkout?
3. Between the time of the alleged crimes when Strauss-Kahn was not wearing clothes, and Strauss-Kahn’s checkout, when he was fully dressed, what was the victim doing and to whom was she relating her account of what had happened and her appeal for help?
4. What did the Sofitel management do, and what calls were made from the hotel – for example, to Paris, France, or Washington, DC, or elsewhere – during the 60 to 92 minutes between the alleged attack and the call from Sofitel for NYPD assistance, which has been officially recorded at 1:32 pm, with the arrival of the police just minutes later?
5. Why did the accuser – now variously identified as a 32-year old French-speaking Guinean with a name that is subject to dispute, and an alias of Ophelia – fail to comply with the housekeeping and security rules of the hotel by entering alone, without another accompanying hotel employee, into the suite occupied by Strauss-Kahn before the scheduled checkout time, and before the room-cleaning schedule required?
6. Were the maid and the managing director, the alleged victim and the alleged criminal, previously acquainted before noon on May 14, and did they recognize each other at that time?
7. NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the police spokesman at the time of the arrest and arraignment, is confirmed by a subordinate officer as saying that, when the maid entered the room innocently and by mistake, Strauss-Kahn “emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her [alleged victim] down the hallway in his suite and yanked her into a bedroom.” If the maid and Strauss-Kahn did not know or recognize each other, why do the Criminal Complaint and the Indictment fail to charge Strauss-Kahn with indecent exposure as the first of the criminal acts preceding the criminal touching “for the purpose of gratifying the defendant’s sexual desire”, and the subsequent crimes of sexual contact and violence?
8. On what evidence and for what reason did the Grand Jury Indictment and the District Attorney remove anal sex contact from the charge-sheet as it was presented by the NYPD in the original Criminal Complaint?
9. Is it possible for a criminal sex act, involving forcible compulsion between the mouth of the victim and the penis of the attacker, to occur without leaving evidence of injury to the attacker? Why is the only evidence of forcible compulsion so far aired and published by the NYPD and District Attorney the closing of the hotel-room door and the maid’s pantyhose?
10. Why did the NYPD make multiple mistakes in publicizing the criminal accusations, including the time of the alleged attack (when Strauss-Kahn was eating lunch at a New York restaurant)? The sex organs which were the target of the attack? Strauss-Kahn’s alleged intention to conceal the crimes and flee from the scene?
11. If the evidence corroborates that Strauss-Kahn did not flee from the scene of the crimes, and that the hotel did not stop him leaving the scene, how is it possible for Strauss-Kahn to believe that no crime had been committed – at least, in his opinion, not by him?

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