Strauss-Kahn wouldn't look me in the eye, writer says after police meeting

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was confronted for more than two hours yesterday by the French writer who accuses him of trying to rape her in 2003.

Tristane Banon, 32, yesterday said Strauss-Kahn had "refused" to look her in the eye during the judicial confrontation in the offices of the Paris sexual crime squad.

"He displayed exactly the same arrogance and coldness and self-satisfaction he displayed [on the French television news 10 days ago]," Banon said in a TV interview.

Asked earlier if Strauss-Kahn, 62, had apologised in any way during the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, his lawyer, Henri Leclerc, said: "He has nothing to apologise for."

Such meetings are a standard judicial practice in France, but the length of the encounter was unusual.

No lawyers for either side were present, only investigators.

Afterwards, Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said he had repeated his insistence that the alleged attempted rape was "imaginary".

Banon told TF1 news she stood by her allegation that Strauss-Kahn wrestled her to the ground and tried to rape her during an interview for a book in February 2003.

"If I hadn't managed to fight him off, he would've raped me," she said.

Banon, who is the god-daughter of Strauss-Kahn's second wife, came forward in June after the French politician was accused of attempting to rape a hotel maid in New York. She said she had been persuaded not to go to the police in 2003 by her mother, a friend of Strauss-Kahn and a Socialist local politician.

In several interviews she has alleged Strauss-Kahn was like a "chimpanzee in rut", trying to undress her and putting his hands up her clothes.

Strauss-Kahn, who returned to Paris last month after the New York charges were dropped, is reported to have told French investigators two weeks ago that he made "advances" to Banon and tried to kiss her. When she resisted, he said, he did not continue.

French investigators are expected to decide next week whether to continue with the Banon case.

There are three possiblities: that there is no case to answer; that a case exists only for sexual assault, which would be outside the three-year statute of limitations; or that Strauss-Kahn should be placed under formal investigation for attempted rape.

The New York case was dropped amid doubts about the credibility of the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, but she has filed a civil suit. Strauss-Kahn is claiming diplomatic immunity and wants the court to dismiss the suit.

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