French president Nicolas Sarkozy has decried claims that his associates ruined the political career of Dominique Strauss-Kahn by choreographing the scandal that followed the former International Monetary Fund chief’s sexual encounter with a New York hotel maid.
Speaking at an election rally in central France, Sarkozy challenged Strauss-Kahn to take legal action over his allegations that his political enemies orchestrated the downfall that cost him the Socialist party's presidential nomination.
"I say to Mr Strauss-Kahn, explain yourself with judicial authorities and spare the French people your comments," Sarkozy told supporters in the city of Clermont-Ferrand. "In the midst of an electoral campaign, Mr Strauss-Kahn starts to give morality lessons and indicate that I am the one responsible for what happened to him, it’s too much!”
Strauss-Kahn said in an interview published in the Guardian last week that he believed the highly public undoing that followed his encounter with the hotel housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo and his subsequent imprisonment on charges of attempted rape were the work of individuals linked to Sarkozy and his ruling UMP party.
He said he did not believe the incident was a setup, but the escalation of events into a criminal investigation that destroyed his chances of winning the presidency had been “shaped by those with a political agenda" and that "more was involved here than mere coincidence”.
“Perhaps I was politically naive, but I did not believe that they would go that far … I didn't think they could find anything that could stop me.”