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Strauss-Kahn charges could be dropped: lawyer

world Updated: Aug 21, 2011 21:30 IST

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The lawyer for the woman accusing former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault has said he believes all or some of the charges will be dropped, in the latest twist in the sensational case.

Kenneth Thompson, the attorney for hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, made the statement to The New York Times on Saturday after New York prosecutors scheduled a new meeting with his client for Monday.

"My interpretation of that letter is that they're going to announce that they're dismissing the case entirely, or some of the charges," Thompson told the Times, referring to a letter he received from prosecutors.

"If they were not going to dismiss the charges," he added, "there would be no need to meet with her. They would just go to court the next day to say, 'We're going to proceed with the case.'"

Douglas Wigdor, another attorney for Diallo, however refused to speculate on the outcome when he confirmed Monday's meeting.

He told AFP the tone of the letter sent by prosecutors was "very negative and disparaging and symbolic of the treatment she has suffered throughout the whole ordeal and throughout her interactions with the DA's office."

Wigdor confirmed that Thompson would accompany Diallo to the meeting.

A new hearing in the case had been set for Tuesday. Strauss-Kahn has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail. His attorneys have said the charges should be dropped so he can return to France.

Strauss-Kahn's arrest in May on charges of attempting to rape Diallo sent shockwaves through France -- where he was a leading politician -- and the International Monetary Fund, where he quickly resigned from his post.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance declined to comment about the upcoming meeting.

The letter from Vance's office provided to the Times said prosecutors wanted to explain to Diallo -- a 32-year-old immigrant from Guinea -- what would happen in court on Tuesday.

In the run-up to the hearing before Judge Michael Obus, the District Attorney's Office insisted the investigation into the allegedly brutal May 14 attack in the Manhattan Sofitel was ongoing.

However, expectations have been growing that the DA may be forced to drop what was originally presented as a strong case against Strauss-Kahn, once seen as a frontrunner for the French presidency.

The first blow to prosecutors was the revelation that Diallo had lied to immigration officials on her asylum application about a gang rape she said took place in her home country in west Africa -- a major hit to her credibility.

Amid a slew of negative media coverage, Diallo and her lawyer launched their own media campaign last month, including print and television interviews, and a press conference at an African American church in New York.

However, it is very unusual for complainants in sex crime cases to go public and legal experts say that Diallo's multiple statements regarding her allegations could make her even more vulnerable on the witness stand.

In a further indication that her lawyer thinks the criminal trial will not take place, Diallo filed a civil suit earlier this month seeking unspecified damages against Strauss-Kahn.

Diallo has accused the 62-year-old Frenchman of forcing her into oral sex in his suite at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan, and the civil suit accuses him of a pattern of assaulting women in hotel rooms.