Strauss-Kahn a free man as maid's case collapses

Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Dominique Strauss-Kahn

More than three months after his arrest at New York's Sofitel Hotel, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 62, left court with his wife Anne Sinclair and told reporters that he was delighted that their "nightmare" was over.

On Tuesday afternoon, despite a last-ditch attempt by lawyers for the chambermaid who accused him of sexual assault to bring in a special prosecutor, the charges were dropped. Justice Michael Obus dismissed the case after prosecutors raised doubts about the maid's credibility, including the fact that she had lied about a rape in an attempt to get US citizenship.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund will have his passport returned to him today and is expected to return to France in the next week. However while many in France's Socialist Party heralded the outcome and began discussing his returning to political life, Mr Strauss-Kahn still faces other legal hurdles.

He is being investigated in France following claims by journalist Tristane Banon, who alleged that he attempted to rape her during an interview in 2002.

Nafissatou Diallo, the maid who accused him, also vowed to pursue a civil case against him. Speaking after the criminal charges were dropped, her lawyer Kenneth Thompson said: "We are disappointed that District Attorney Vance apparently does not believe in equal justice under the law.

"He has denied an innocent woman a day in court."

Mr Strauss-Kahn could also counter-sue Ms Diallo for the "enormous damages" he suffered due to her claims, which his lawyer Benjamin Brafman said was certainly a consideration".

Mr Brafman also refused to discuss the nature of the encounter between Mr Strauss-Kahn and Ms Diallo, despite continued media speculation that what happened was consensual.

He said: "You can engage in inappropriate behaviour, perhaps, but that is much different from a crime. And this case was treated as a crime - when it was not.

"What happened in that room, so long as we have now confirmed that it wasn't criminal, is really not something that needs to be discussed publicly."

Now a free man, Mr Strauss-Kahn must decide whether he can move past the scandal and mount a campaign in opposition to Nicholas Sarkozy at the French presidential elections.

On Tuesday, he said simply: "We look forward to returning to our home and resuming something of a more normal life."

Last updated: 9:03am, August 24 2011