Lawyer: No US call to IMF chief's French accuser

May 23, 2011 - 1:14 PM

PARIS (AP) — A French writer who has alleged Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her nine years ago has not been contacted by U.S. prosecutors who have indicted the former IMF chief on sex charges in New York, her lawyer said Monday.

David Koubbi said "there has been no attempt to get in touch." He said his client, Tristane Banon, does not intend to assist the American prosecution, and he doesn't believe she can be forced to cooperate.

"My client is French. I am a French lawyer," Koubbi told The Associated Press in an interview. "We are in two very different judicial systems. My client won't be forced to do anything by American justice."

Strauss-Kahn is on bail and under house arrest in New York, awaiting trial for allegedly attempting to rape a hotel housekeeper. He denies all charges but has resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund.

Banon has alleged that Strauss-Kahn wrenched open her bra and tried to unbutton her jeans in a rape attempt in 2002.

Her lawyer has said she was dissuaded from pressing charges at the time by her mother, an official in Strauss-Kahn's Socialist party.

Assistant U.S. District Attorney John A. McConnell said in court last week that New York authorities were investigating at least one other case of "conduct similar to the conduct alleged" against Strauss-Kahn.

Koubbi said that had been widely interpreted to mean Banon's case.

But he said she had no intention of pressing charges while the American prosecution was going on because the two cases should be kept separate.

Koubbi said that Strauss-Kahn should be convicted or acquitted on the U.S. charges alone, and if "American investigators need to pile up two cases to obtain a conviction ... we will absolutely refuse any kind of cooperation."

He said he did not rule out Banon pressing charges after the U.S case is over — but a 10-year statute of limitations in France means that must be done by next year.

The arrest of Strauss-Kahn, a suave Socialist politician who until last week was a leading contender for France's 2012 presidential election, has shocked and riveted France.

Koubbi said Banon's life had been turned upside down by her connection with the politician.

He said the 31-year-old novelist "can't live in her home anymore because her residence is constantly surrounded by journalists and paparazzi. She can't answer her mobile phone anymore. Her voice mail is full. People she hasn't seen for eight years are trying to get in touch with her because getting an interview with her is priceless."

"Here's how she feels: She became the heart of a story without having any say in the matter."

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Catherine Gaschka contributed to this report.