*Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on Friday after prosecutors said the hotel maid who accuses him of attempted rape lied to a grand jury and made other false statements.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, still faces charges that he sexually assaulted the woman in New York but questions about her credibility appear to be shifting the case in his favor in a twist that could upend French politics, reports Reuters.
The case has hinged on the accuser, a 32-year-old Guinean immigrant who cleaned the $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan where Strauss-Kahn was staying.
Prosecutors found issues with her asylum application, tax return and statements to the grand jury investigating the assault case, court documents showed.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court “the facts of the sexual encounter was and is corroborated” but some details appear to have changed.
The woman initially said Strauss-Kahn assaulted her and she then cowered in the hallway outside his room until he left and she felt safe to seek help. Now, prosecutors say, she admits she cleaned a nearby room and then returned to Strauss-Kahn’s suite to start cleaning before reporting the incident.
After the dramatic revelations, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman said he wants the charges dropped.
“We are absolutely convinced that while today is a first giant step in the right direction, the next step will lead to a complete dismissal of the charges,” Brafman said.
The woman’s brother told Reuters in Guinea that she was the victim of a smear campaign.
Her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said after the hearing his client’s story had never wavered and that Strauss-Kahn had bruised her badly and tore a ligament in her shoulder.
“The claim that this was consensual is a lie,” Thompson told reporters. “She made some mistakes but that doesn’t mean she is not a rape victim.”
The New York Times quoted law enforcement officials as saying prosecutors found possible links between the accuser and people involved in drug dealing and money laundering.
They also discovered the woman made a phone call to a jailed man within a day of her encounter with Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him, the paper said.
The conversation was recorded. The man was among a number of people who had made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years, The New York Times said.
Some commentators suggested that Strauss-Kahn, known as the “great seducer” of French politics, could have been set up.
His arrest opened the field for several other Socialist candidates for next April’s presidential election, including party leader Martine Aubry, who trails colleague Francois Hollande in opinion polls.