On Sunday evening ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn (photo, from nouvelobs.com) apologised to his country on TV for what he described as a “moral error”. On 14 May he was arrested in New York and accused of attempted rape on a hotel maid.
The charges were dropped last month because prosecutors doubted the hotel maid’s credibility.
But the case broke his IMF career – he resigned from the IMF after being arrested – and destroyed his chances of running for president.
Mr Strauss-Kahn was clearly uncomfortable in his first interview since the charges were dropped.
He said the affair with the hotel maid was “inappropriate”. He added that he was angry with himself for what he called an ill-judged but consensual liaison because he had let down his country and hurt his family.
“What happened was not only an inappropriate liaison but more than that, an error vis-a-vis my wife, my children, my friends and the French people,” he said in a TV news programme that was watched by millions.
“It was a moral error, and I am not proud of it”, he said. “I regret it, infinitely, and I don’t think I am finished with regretting it.”
About Nafissatou Diallo – the hotel maid who said he tried to rape her – Mr Strauss-Kahn said the sexual encounter “did not involve violence, constraint or aggression”, adding that she had lied. He also said that he was not going to negotiate with her in her civil case.
“I was afraid, very afraid,” he said about his arrest and the US criminal justice system, “and I was humiliated, trampled before I could even utter a word.”
He told TF1 interviewer Claire Chazal, a friend of his wife Anne Sinclair, that he was a changed man.
“I have paid heavily for it. I am still paying for it. I have seen the pain I have caused around me and I have reflected deeply,” Mr Strauss-Kahn told TF1 interviewer Claire Chazal, a friend of his wife Anne Sinclair.
Last week Mr Strauss-Kahn was interviewed by the French police because author Tristane Banon accuses him of trying to rape her in 2003, when they met for an interview.
On Sunday evening on TV, the ex-IMF chief said Ms Banon’s accusations were imaginary and that there was “no violence”.
He is suing her for defamation.
French news agency AFP said an official close to the inquiry told them that Mr Strauss-Kahn had denied attempted rape and assault, however he “conceded that he had made advances to her, without being very precise about the nature of these advances”.
While before his arrest Mr Strauss-Kahn was seen as a strong opponent to president Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 election, on Sunday he said he could “obviously” no longer be the Socialist Party candidate. He added that he would not take part in the Socialist primaries in October.
At the end of the interview, when Ms Chazal asked what he would do now, he said : “I am going first of all to rest, spend time with my loved ones, take time to think. But my whole life has been dedicated to trying to be useful for the public good and we will see.”
Concerning his future in politics French people seem divided.
According to an Ifop opinion poll published in Sunday’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper, 53 per cent of those surveyed wanted him announce during the interview that he retired from politics, with 22 per cent hoping he would announce his candidature for next year’s presidential election.
And other polls have found that two-thirds of French don’t want him to hold a position in a future left-wing government.