French presidential contender François Hollande will be questioned by police investigating a writer’s accusations that ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her, legal sources said on Tuesday.
The lawyer for writer Tristane Banon says she had informed Mr. Hollande about the alleged incident in 2003, when he was head of the Socialist Party, raising questions as to how much he knew and whether he should have raised the alarm.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn, once the party’s leading candidate for next year’s French presidential election, was arrested by police in New York in May on charges of attempting to rape a hotel maid there.
The case has damaged the Socialist Party and threatens to poison the run-up to the election next April, a contest in which Mr. Hollande is now the leading contender in the opinion polls.
“There’s nothing new. Mr. Hollande isn’t being targeted in particular,” the legal source told Reuters, confirming a report in Tuesday’s Le Figaro newspaper that the Socialist would be interviewed by investigators.
The source did not say when police would question Mr. Hollande, but the newspaper said it would be in September.
Nothing to hide
Mr. Hollande himself told Le Monde newspaper Ms. Banon’s mother had contacted him at the time of the alleged incident, and he had suggested contacting the police if there was a problem.
“I’ve nothing to hide and nothing to feel uneasy about, but I will not allow this case to be exploited politically,” Le Monde quoted him as saying.
French police are questioning a number of people with links to the case in a preliminary investigation to establish whether a full inquiry is justified.
Ms. Banon’s mother, Socialist councillor Anne Mansouret, spoke to police last week.
According to French news magazine L’Express, Ms. Mansouret told police that she herself had once had a
consensual but rough sexual encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a one-off event she had previously kept to herself.
Ms. Mansouret, contacted by Reuters, said she would not comment on what she had told police as part of a closed -doors judicial process or
on press reports of that hearing.
On Monday, Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s daughter from his second marriage, Camille Strauss-Kahn, was interviewed. Her mother, Brigitte Guillemette, was questioned on Friday, the legal sources said.
Ms. Banon filed a legal complaint at the start of July, alleging that Mr. Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in 2003 when she went to interview him in a sparsely furnished flat in Paris.
Investigators have opened a preliminary probe to assess the merits of the complaint, cross-checking dates and addresses and summoning for questioning people that Ms. Banon refers to in her allegation.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn has filed a counterclaim for defamation.
In New York, lawyers representing the hotel maid who accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault met New York prosecutors, but it was not immediately clear what they discussed.
Lawyers Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Wigdor did not answer questions from waiting reporters as they entered the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.