French Accuser of DSK Refuses to Help American Prosecution

The lawyer for Tristane Banon, a young French novelist who claims to have been sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2002, has reaffirmed that his client will not cooperate with the prosecution of Strauss-Kahn in the United States. On Wednesday, Banon’s lawyer, David Koubbi, told the French news channel BFM, “There are obviously two cases and each case should be treated in isolation, according to the laws of the country in question.” Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF, is accused of having sexually assaulted a chamber maid at the Sofitel hotel in New York on May 14.

Koubbi made his comments one day after a lawyer for the maid appealed for help in remarks broadcast on the French television channel, France 2. “If there are any women out there, whether in France or in Africa, who have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I ask them please to call me, contact me. … We want to talk with them,” lawyer Kenneth Thompson said.

Earlier, in a May 20 interview with BFM, Koubbi had already flagged his client’s unwillingness to aid the American prosecution of Strauss-Kahn. “Neither Tristane Banon nor I myself want to be used [instrumentalisé] by the American judiciary or to provide any cooperation whatsoever such that these two cases become connected in one way or another. It is completely out of the question in the case of Tristane Banon that an action on our part results in Dominique Strauss-Kahn being found guilty in the United States.”

Koubbi’s allusion to being “used” by the American judiciary is in keeping with the general tenor of the French coverage of the Strauss-Kahn case. From the start, the French media have called into question the fairness of the American criminal justice system – or the “atrocious” American criminal justice system, as one supposed “expert” on BFM put it.

In an interview that she gave to the French website AgoraVox in October 2008, Tristane Banon said that she was “shocked” by the law of silence or “omerta” surrounding Strauss-Kahn’s alleged history of sexual predation in France. Referring to her own case, she continued, “Not only is it known in journalistic circles in Paris, but it is not only my case that is known. ... There are a whole bunch of problems of the same sort that are talked about in journalistic circles. I cannot get over the generalized hypocrisy surrounding this story.”

Asked why she had not pressed charges in 2002 in the aftermath of the alleged assault, Banon noted that, among other things, “I did not feel very comfortable with the idea of finding myself having to confront the matter all alone.”

Tristane Banon’s 2008 AgoraVox interview is available here with English subtitles. For the details of her accusations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, see my earlier report here.

(Photo: Tristane Banon speaking with AgoraVox, 2008.)