IMF chief appears in NY court in sex assault case

 
City A.M. Reporter
International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has appeared in court for the first time since he was accused of trying to rape a hotel maid in New York.

The International Monetary Fund managing director is being detained in the US after his arrest on Saturday, which plunged the IMF into disarray in the midst of the eurozone's debt crisis.

His lawyers said he would plead not guilty to charges of a criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment and attempted rape.

A handcuffed and drained Strauss-Kahn was seen in public for the first time since his arrest when he was taken to the booking station at Manhattan Criminal Court on Sunday night.

"Our client willingly consented to a scientific and forensic examination ...," said William Taylor, the IMF chief's Washington-based lawyer. "He's tired but he's fine."

Strauss-Kahn, who has led the IMF through the financial crisis and is critical to debt negotiations with Greece and Portugal, was also widely expected to run in the next French presidential elections.

Any restriction the judge places on his freedom of movement after today's arraignment hearing may determine whether he is able to continue in his role as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

His court appearance was delayed in order for him to undergo a forensic examination.

Eurozone finance ministers are doing their best to maintain business as usual and have pressed ahead with the EU/IMF bailout of Portugal at meetings despite his arrest.

Strauss-Kahn was scheduled to be part of the talks, when the eurozone’s 17 finance ministers will sign off on a €78bn package of emergency loans, but he will be replaced by IMF Deputy Managing Director Nemat Shafik, the organisation said.

The European Commission, which negotiated the Portuguese bailout and earlier assistance packages for Greece and Ireland alongside the IMF, dismissed suggestions that Strauss-Kahn's arrest would have any impact on any of the programmes.

"I would like to reassure public opinion, the markets and the press, there's absolutely no question: decisions which are under way will not be impacted and this will not have an impact on the programmes being applied," Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj told reporters.