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Cyrus Vance rejects call to step down from Strauss-Kahn case

Reuters/Lucas Jackson

The New York prosecution team heading the case against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn have refused a demand from his accuser's lawyer that they hand it over to a special prosecutor.


Kenneth Thompson, the combative lawyer for hotel chambermaid Nafissatou Diallo, sent a four-page letter to District Attorney Cyrus Vance, accusing his office of damaging leaks and a potential conflict of interest, and demanding that the office "recuse" or disengage themselves from the case.

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A spokesperson for Cyrus Vance called the recusal idea, a rare request, "wholly without merit".

Thompson's letter details alleged leaks from Cyrus Vance's office, in particular regarding The New York Times story about a conversation the maid had with a jailed man, which was secretly recorded.

Thompson also said he was truly saddened that a "senior prosecutor" had refused to deny a New York Post tabloid story which reported that the maid was a prostitute.

Thompson also mentioned a "potential conflict of interest" because the head of the prosecutor's trial division is married to one of Strauss-Kahn's lawyers.

His team should have been informed of this link by the DA's office and not by members of the press, he wrote.

Thompson also complained that one of the prosecutors had "screamed at and disrespected the victim" and yet was still assigned to the case.

The letter follows an angry outburst from Kenneth Thompson on Friday after the prosecution admitted publicly that there were grave doubts over the chambermaid's credibility.

Lawyers for both defence and prosecution met on Wednesday but revealed little afterwards.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Benjamin Brafman said only that they had a "constructive meeting", while Cyrus Vance's office said "the investigation is continuing".

The New York Times reports that the District Attorney Cyrus Vance proposed that Strauss-Kahn plead guilty to lesser charges which incur a lighter penalty, but many commentators believe that the defence will insist on a all charges being dropped.

Meanwhile new IMF boss Christine Lagarde revealed to RFI's sister television channel France 24 yesterday that she had spoken on the telephone to predecessor and fellow French national Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but she stressed that the conversation was strictly professional.

On France 24: Who is Tristane Banon?

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