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17th Apr 2021

Two EU ministers say jailed IMF chief should go

  • Salgado: 'If I had to show my solidarity and support for someone it would be toward the woman' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Two EU ministers have suggested that Dominique Strauss-Kahn should resign as head of the International Monetary Fund because his arrest on sexual assault charges is "hurting" the institution.

"Considering the situation, that bail was denied, he has to figure out for himself that he is hurting the institution," Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter said on Tuesday (17 May) as she arrived at a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

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The institution in question, the IMF, is currently a major contributor to the rescue packages of six European countries - Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Hungary and Romania.

Her colleague from Spain, Elena Salgado, said the French politician had to decide for himself whether he wanted to step down, considering the "extraordinarily serious" nature of the charges.

"If I had to show my solidarity and support for someone it would be toward the woman who has been assaulted, if that is really the case that she has been," she said.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested on Saturday in New York as he was boarding a flight to France and charged with sexual assault on a hotel maid.

The 62-year old faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison if proven guilty. Sources from his defence team, quoted by the New York Post, claim that the sexual encounter was "consensual."

On Monday, a judge denied his request for bail and ordered him to be jailed on Rikers Island, one of America's largest jails, with a population of 14,000 and a long history of violence between inmates and guards.

Given his high profile, Strauss-Kahn has his own cell, not a 50-bed barrack like other prisoners. His next appearance in court is on Friday.

The prosecutor has indicated it may take into consideration a potential second complaint to be made "overseas" - a 31-year old French journalist, Tristane Banon, who says she was assaulted by Strauss-Kahn nine years ago but decided not to press charges on the advice of her mother, a senior member of the Strauss-Kahn's Socialist Party.

"If the deeds of which Dominique Strauss-Kahn is accused are verified, we would be faced with a very serious act for which there is no excuse," French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told a closed-door meeting of lawmakers on Tuesday, according to participants quoted by AFP and later confirmed by his office.

Fillon is the first member of Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right government to be quoted on the matter. Until Sunday, Strauss-Kahn was expected to be put forward by the opposition Socialists in the presidential race against Sarkozy next year.

"This is a matter of common law, not an affair of state," Fillon said, warning his fellow party members not to "exploit this affair."

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