The lawyer for French writer Tristane Banon announced today that his client intends to file attempted rape charges against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in Paris. “I will send the complaint to the public prosecutor’s office tomorrow,” lawyer David Koubbi told the French weekly L’Express, “and they will receive it on Wednesday.” The move comes only days after prosecutors in New York conceded that their case against Strauss-Kahn had been weakened by questions surrounding the credibility of a maid who has accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in May at the Sofitel Hotel in New York.
The 32-year-old Banon has accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her eight years earlier in an empty Parisian apartment where she was conducting an interview with him for a book on the “biggest mistakes” of well-known public figures. Initial reports put the date of the incident in 2002. Koubbi now says that it occurred in February 2003. Banon first called public attention to the incident during a French television talk show in 2007. At the time, however, the name of her alleged aggressor was beeped out by the producers of the program. (For the details, see my PJM report here.) Banon has also described the incident in fictionalized form in her 2006 novel Trapéziste [Trapeze Artist].
Banon and Koubbi have refused to cooperate with the American prosecution of Strauss-Kahn. In his interview with L’Express, Koubbi insists that he and Banon took the decision to go ahead with the complaint already in mid-June, before the latest developments in the New York case. “I took the time needed,” Koubbi explained, “because I did not want to be used [instrumentalisé] by the American criminal justice system. In the event that the case against Strauss-Kahn in the United States was not sufficiently solid, I did not want the word of my client to be linked to that of [Strauss-Kahn’s American accuser].” Regarding the latter, Koubbi added, “I want to remind you that even if she did lie about certain details, this does not mean that she was not raped.”
Koubbi emphasized that the acts of which Banon accuses Strauss-Kahn do not constitute mere sexual assault, but rather attempted rape. In French law, the statute of limitations for attempted rape is ten years.
“What happens in the United States does not concern us,” Koubbi concluded, “If the prosecution’s case against Strauss-Kahn [in the United States] is empty, ours is not. It is extremely solid and well-supported.”
Photo: Tristane Banon as seen on the cover of L’Express.
Editor’s note: Also read The Lessons of the Strauss-Kahn Affair