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First US hearing in Strauss-Kahn civil case set

world Updated: Feb 25, 2012 12:20 IST

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The first court hearing in the US civil case being brought against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will take place March 15, court officials said on Wednesday.

The hearing will hear arguments on pre-trial motions and is not the start of the trial itself. New York prosecutors abandoned a sex assault case against Strauss-Kahn last year, but his accuser, an immigrant hotel maid, lodged a civil suit.

It was not clear what motion, or issue of dispute between the two sides, would be addressed.

The Bronx Supreme Court announced the new stage in the saga with a brief statement saying "oral argument on the motions in the Diallo v Strauss-Kahn case pending in Bronx Supreme Court will be held on March 15."

Nafissatou Diallo says Strauss-Kahn attempted to rape her in his Manhattan Sofitel hotel room where she had gone to clean on May 14 last year. Strauss-Kahn was arrested later that day but insisted he was being framed and prosecutors later dropped charges, saying the maid had credibility problems.

The civil suit seeks unspecified damages from Strauss-Kahn, who was once considered a front-runner to become the next president of France and is married to a wealthy French journalist.

Friends of Strauss-Kahn have claimed a conspiracy to bring him down, removing what had been seen as a viable challenge to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. However, lawyers for Diallo say Strauss-Kahn committed a violent attack on a woman he presumed to be defenseless.

Strauss-Kahn -- or DSK, as he is mostly known in France -- is in deep water back home, where he is being probed over alleged participation in a prostitution ring.