France - United States

Cyrus Vance could talk to French complainant about Strauss-Kahn


Cyrus Vance, the New York Prosecutor of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, could interview Tristane Banon, the French writer and journalist who says Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in Paris in 2003.


France's Le Figaro newspaper reports on Thursday that a source close to the Banon case hinted that she had agreed to meet the New York Prosecutor.

Until now, her lawyer has been very keen to keep her case separate from the Sofitel case, lest developments in New York influence his client's dossier.

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Under the American legal system, Cyrus Vance would not be allowed to use any statements from Tristane Banon in the case centred on New York hotel chambermaid Nafissatou Diallo, unless he could convince the judge that there was a real similiarity in the two cases.

Legal experts point out that the two cases are very different, and note that there could also be difficulties because the Banon proceedings are in the early stages and a long way from any verdict.

But some suggest that Cyrus Vance might still ask the judge for permission to use elements from the Banon case.

If the judge refuses such permission, at least Vance can demonstrate that he tried his best to prosecute Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Cyrus Vance has been heavily criticised for his handling of the case, and his public statements in early July, questioning the credibility of the alleged victim, Nafissatou Diallo.

He is under significant pressure from the black community and feminists to bring the case to trial.

He might well conclude that he has less to lose by pushing for a trial even if he fails to secure a conviction, than by abandoning the case altogether.

And in a case which has been punctuated by dramatic reversals, some observers are betting that, even though Diallo is apparently no longer considered by the prosecution team to be a credible witness, a jury of New Yorkers might choose to believe the poor black woman rather than the rich white male.

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