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Friday, September 30, 2011

Dominic Strauss-Kahn Pleads Diplomatic Immunity

When Nafissatou Diallo's rape case against Strauss-Kahn fell apart because it was claimed that she had lied in the past and lacked credibility, she filed a civil suit. Now DSK's lawyers have asked the judge to dismiss it on the grounds that he is entitled to absolute diplomatic immunity because he was head of the IMF, even though he had resigned.

Bradley Simon, a New York criminal defense lawyer said "I think his lawyers are feeling somewhat emboldened and are trying anything but I don't think it's got legs." He thinks that if the immunity defense had any legitimacy, his lawyers would have raised it early in the criminal case, before he stepped down as head of the IMF.

But his lawyers are citing a 1947 United Nations convention under which heads of specialized agencies are immune from civil and criminal suits, regardless of whether they are acting in their official capacity when the alleged offence took place. Although the US is not party to the UN convention, his lawyers insist that its absolute-immunity provision has "achieved the status of customary international law" and must be honoured.

When DSK returned to France on 17 September, he gave an interview on French television and said that the encounter with the Manhattan maid was consensual but added "It was a moral error and I am not proud of it."

Meanwhile on Thursday, he came face to face with French writer Tristane Banon who has accused him of trying to rape her eight years ago. They met at a French police station without their lawyers present, as investigators tried to get a better picture of what happened. "I looked at him constantly but he didn't dare look at me" she said. "I knew I'd be given a hard time, just as Diallo was in the US." She went on "In what kind of country do you attack my lawyer, my childhood, my family, my father, in order to explain that I wasn't the victim of an attempted rape?

When asked about what she thought of his request for the civil case to be dropped she said "It's just like him, I ask myself why would an innocent man need immunity, what does it mean - that you have the right to attack and rape women?"

Ms Banon was asked by her mother not to go ahead with the attempted rape charge eight years ago because she belonged to the same political party as Strauss-Kahn but she changed her mind and went ahead after the American rape case fell apart.

It's cases like this one that make a mockery of the American justice system. Just like OJ Simpson, if you have the power and more importantly, plenty of money to buy the best lawyers, you can't lose.

I hope DSK's legal team fail in their endeavours to discredit this young woman by digging up as much dirt as they can about her. The world is watching with interest to see how the French handle this sensitive issue that is crying out for justice.