On Monday morning, French police questioned Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and a former finance minister and Socialist presidential candidate in France, about allegations of sexual assault of a French novelist and journalist, Tristane Banon. The questioning was part of a preliminary inquiry of Strauss-Kahn over allegations that, in 2003, he assaulted and attempted to rape Banon when she went to interview him.
Strauss-Kahn had returned to France on September 4, after charges that he had sexually assaulted and raped Nafissatou Diallo, a maid at the New York Sofitel hotel, were dropped after questions arose about her credibility. Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had revealed that Diallo lied to immigration officials on her asylum application. Diallo is now filing a civil suit against Strauss-Kahn.
Banon, who is now 32 and the goddaughter of Strauss-Kahn’s former second wife, says that the politician acted like a “rutting chimpanzee” towards her at the 2003 interview. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have labeled her accusations as “fantasy,” says the Guardian.
In a message on Facebook written on Saturday, September 10, Banon described herself as full of “nausea” since Strauss-Kahn’s return:
J’entends les gens me dire leur écoeurement, j’avale leur soutien pour tenir debout et pourtant c’est moi qui baisse la tête et longe les murs quand d’autres sourient aux caméras.”
["I hear people tell me their disgust, I swallow their support to hold myself up and yet it is I who lower my head and stand along the walls when others smile at the cameras."]
“Je ne peux pas croire que mon pays accueille en héros un homme qui n’a pas été blanchi.”
["I cannot believe that my country welcomes as a hero a man who has not been exonerated."]
According to the French newspaper Le Monde, the leftist party Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) held a “rally against rape” on Sunday afternoon in the Place des Vosges in Paris, where Strauss-Kahn lives. The group issued a statement on Saturday:
“Nous exigeons que tous les hommes accusés de viols et d’agressions soient jugés avec le sérieux que ces crimes requièrent et que leurs victimes soient reconnues en tant que telles.
["We demand that all men accused of rape and assault be judged with the seriousness that these crimes require and that their victims be recognized as such."]
French prosecutors have a month to decide whether to investigate Strauss-Kahn, whose lawyers have said that he wishes to “close the [Banon] affair.”
I can only commend Tristane Banon for speaking up about Strauss-Kahn and about her feelings of revulsion upon his return. Will France dare to bring Strauss-Kahn to justice for his crimes against women?
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