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Strauss-Kahn returns to frosty reception and uncertain future

The former IMF head meets a frosty reception upon arrival in France for the first time since the Sofitel incident in May.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Anne Sinclair are crowded by media as they arrive back at their Parisian home.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Anne Sinclair are crowded by media as they arrive back at their Parisian home.
Image: Jacques Brinon/AP

DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN has returned to France for the first time since being charged with the attempted rape of a New York hotel maid, in a a scandal that wrecked the former IMF chief’s chances for the French presidency.

New York prosecutors later dropped their case against Strauss-Kahn because of questions about the maid’s credibility, but the affair cost him his job at the IMF and exposed his personal life to worldwide scrutiny that has stained his image and plunged his political future into uncertainty.

Smiling and waving silently, he stepped off an Air France flight this morning at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport – a different man from the one who, just four months ago, had been the pollsters’ favorite to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential elections.

Few expect Strauss-Kahn to return to French politics soon, but his supporters have been eagerly awaiting his return after three months of legal drama in the US that they saw as unfairly hostile to him.

“I’m moved, I always believed in his innocence. I wanted very much for this to be over,” Michelle Sabban, a fellow Socialist Party member, said on i-Tele television.

His wife, respected former TV personality Anne Sinclair, was at Strauss-Kahn’s side as he arrived, beaming widely. Riot police protected him and the area. The crush of reporters outside their home was so thick that Strauss-Kahn had trouble reaching and opening his front door.

The last time he tried to take an Air France flight from JFK airport, Strauss-Kahn was pulled out of first class minutes before takeoff by police. They were investigating the maid’s claim that hours earlier, Strauss-Kahn had forced her to perform oral sex and tried to rape her.

He quit his job, spent almost a week in jail, then six weeks of house arrest and nearly two more months barred from leaving the country before Manhattan prosecutors dropped the case last month, saying they no longer trusted the maid, Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo.

Diallo is continuing to press her claims in a lawsuit. Strauss-Kahn denies the allegations.

A Strauss-Kahn faces another investigation in France over attempted rape, based on accusations by French novelist Tristane Banon. He calls the claim “imaginary.”

Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, believes that Strauss-Kahn’s return “is a good thing for my daughter’s complaint because he will have to answer to police.”

Banon says she didn’t file a complaint after the 2003 incident because her mother, a regional Socialist official, urged her not to.

Read: NY judge dismisses assault charges against Strauss-Kahn >

More: Strauss-Kahn applauded on return to IMF >

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Associated Press

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