IMF chief sent to tough NY jail
Updated: 2011-05-17 06:57
International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn sits next to his lawyer Benjamin Brafman in Manhattan Criminal Court during his arraignment in New York May 16, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
NEW YORK - IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was denied bail and sent to New York's notorious Rikers Island jail on Monday, a crushing blow as he fights charges that he assaulted and tried to rape a hotel maid.
He is being held in protective custody in an 11-by-13-foot (3.5-by-4-meter) cell to prevent attack from other inmates, officials said late on Monday.
"This is not about isolating the inmate from any human contact," said a spokesman for New York's Department of Correction. "This is about preventing the inmate from being victimized or harmed in some way as a result of his high profile."
Unshaven and looking drained and tense, Strauss-Kahn had earlier listened grimly in a Manhattan court as prosecutors detailed his alleged assault against a maid in a luxury New York City hotel suite on Saturday.
His lawyers said Strauss-Kahn, 62, is innocent and they tried to have him released on $1 million bail, but prosecutors convinced the judge he might flee to France and she ordered him held behind bars.
Strauss-Kahn faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
He is accused of attacking the 32-year-old maid when she went to clean his $3,000-a-day suite in the Sofitel hotel near Times Square.
"He sexually assaulted her and attempted to forcibly rape her. When he was unsuccessful, he forced her to perform oral sex on him," Assistant District Attorney John McConnell told the court on Monday.
It was a humiliating court appearance for Strauss-Kahn, who before Saturday was seen as a strong candidate in France's presidential election and has won praise for his leadership of the International Monetary Fund during the 2007-2009 global financial meltdown as well as the euro zone's debt crisis.
His arrest is also extremely embarrassing for the IMF.
Apart from dealing with a leadership crisis, it now faces serious questions about whether it let Strauss-Kahn off too lightly with a reprimand in 2008 after he was caught in an extra-marital affair with an economist who was his subordinate. Persistent rumors inside the IMF that he often made unwanted sexual advances to women have long dogged his tenure there.
The IMF board met informally on Monday for an update on its managing director, but it held off on deciding whether or not to remove him from his job.
If he is forced out, there could be a fierce battle over who would succeed him, weakening the IMF's efforts to deal with the euro zone debt crisis. Europe has for long had a hold on the IMF's top job but increasingly powerful emerging economies like China, India, Brazil and Russia might push for a change.
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