US Judge Postpones Ruling on Strauss-Kahn Case

Posted March 28th, 2012 at 7:25 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. judge has postponed a ruling on whether to dismiss a hotel maid's civil lawsuit against French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Bronx state Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon heard arguments Wednesday in Nafisatou Diallo's suit. He said he would not rule immediately in the case.

Diallo says Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in his Manhattan hotel suite last May. Strauss-Kahn has denied doing anything violent during the encounter.

Prosecutors dropped related criminal charges last summer, citing doubts about Diallo's credibility.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers argued Wednesday the civil suit also should be dismissed, saying that he has diplomatic immunity from the suit because of his position as head of the International Monetary Fund at the time the alleged crime took place. Lawyer Amit Mehta argued that an IMF chief enjoys the same diplomatic immunity as a French ambassador.

“It's precisely the same because there is a convention. It's precisely the same because it is becoming a matter of customary international law through consistent state practice, through the fact that no states have reserve on this particular executive immunity. It's become a matter of custom because agencies like the IMF, your honor have become increasingly important in world economics.”

Mehta argued that executives of the international egencies such as the IMF and the United Nations need immunity from prosecution so that these agnecies can function properly.

Diallo's lawyers said the immunity claim relies on a U.N. agreement the U.S. did not sign. Lawyer Kenneth Thompson told reporters after the hearing Wednesday that in any case, Strauss-Kahn's immunity could only be applied to his job.

“The bottom line is the law is the law. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was the head of an international organization. He was not a diplomat. He only had wat's called limited immunity, meaning whatever he did in connection with his position, he had immunity (for that). Even they (the prosecution) conceded that attaching Nafisatou Diallo was not part of his duties. So he does not have absolute immunity. And if he did, don't you think that his lawyers would have raised this in the criminal case?”

Wigdor noted that Strauss-Kahn was prosecuted for three months last year before his case was dropped.

The former IMF chief was charged Tuesday with pimping as part of organized crime in France. His French lawyers said Strauss-Kahn is being hounded for his libertine ways. The Socialist politician was once considered a top rival to President Nicolas Sarkozy in the upcoming French presidential election.