Dominique Strauss-Kahn, director of the International Monetary Fund and the French left’s most promising presidential candidate, was arrested Saturday and charged with sexual assault, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment of a Times Square hotel maid.

Plainclothes police officers from the Port Authority of New York apprehended Strauss-Kahn, 62, on an Air France jet at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, minutes before it was due to depart, the Guardian reported. The maid, 32, told police he sexually assaulted her in his hotel room at about 1 p.m. before she eventually escaped. Conviction could bring a prison sentence of 15 to 45 years.

In 2008, Strauss-Kahn was accused of harassment and favoritism over an affair with a female colleague, though a subsequent IMF investigation cleared him of those charges, the Guardian said. Members of the French Socialist party and Strauss-Kahn’s legal team said the latest accusations may be mere provocation. His lawyers said he will plead not guilty, but the scandal appears likely to shoot down Strauss-Kahn’s chances of challenging Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential election. –ARK

Guardian:

Strauss-Kahn, 62, was taken from the first class cabin of a Paris-bound Air France flight on the tarmac at JFK airport by plainclothes officers before Manhattan police formally arrested him on charges of criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment.

… The charges have stunned French politics, where “DSK” was the Socialist favourite to beat Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential election. Strauss-Kahn was expected to declare within weeks that he would run in the primary race to become the left’s official candidate. But political commentators today suggested his presidential dream was over.

… For months opinion polls have suggested that Strauss-Kahn is the only potential opposition candidate who might unseat Sarkozy in next year’s election … .

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