France

New York judge rejects Strauss-Kahn immunity claim in Diallo civil case

Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

A New York judge has rejected former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's claim to diplomatic immunity in a civil suit by a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, who alleges he sexually assaulted her in a hotel room last May and forced her to perform oral sex. 

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The French politician, once seen as a presidential contender, must now face a civil trial over the alleged sex assault.

Judge Douglas McKeon hearing the suit ruled Strauss-Kahn had lost immunity when he resigned from the International Monetary Fund.

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Judge Douglas McKeon called Strauss-Kahn's attempt to escape the civil trial "his own version of a Hail Mary pass," a reference to the often desperate, long-distance throw a losing team will make in the final seconds of an American football game.

At an earlier hearing, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers had asked the judge to dismiss the civil suit arguing their client had diplomatic immunity under the terms of a 1947 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of Specialised Agencies.

At that time the judge pointed out that the convention had never been ratified by the US and that an annex to the document submitted to the IMF showed the international organisation itself had not signed up for the ‘absolute’ immunity it offered.

In addition, in its own founding documents, the IMF provides immunity for a senior executive working in an official capacity. But at the time of the alleged sexual assault, Strauss-Kahn was not in New York on official business.

Diallo’s lawyer, Douglas Wignor, argued that at the time the civil lawsuit was filed Strauss-Kahn had already resigned from his post at the IMF.

The judge's decision paves the way for a civil trial with a jury.

But Strauss-Kahn lawyer’s had already hinted they would appeal a decision that went against their client.
 

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