US view: Strauss-Kahn 'will get a fair trial'

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US view: Strauss-Kahn 'will get a fair trial'

US view: Strauss-Kahn 'will get a fair trial'
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The Strauss-Kahn case has gripped people on both sides of the Atlantic and it has only just begun.

The former IMF head has been charged with seven counts relating to his alleged sexual assault on a hotel maid.

The pre-trial procedure and publicity has been described outside America as unfair to the defence.

euronews spoke to ABC News correspondent T.J. Winick, who has been following the case from New York.

Alasdair Sandford, euronews: We’ve now had the formal indictment, does that mean that a trial is now inevitable?

T.J. Winick, ABC News: I think so, at this point, that it is. After all, the indictment handed down yesterday seven very serious counts that carry a maximum of 25 years in prison. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is 62 years old right now, so it would essentially be a life sentence. We know that he has unlimited resources, so I would expect his legal team to mount a vigorous defence to argue that sex did occur in that hotel room in mid-town Manhattan this past Saturday, but that it was consensual. I just don’t see what Dominique Strauss-Kahn has to gain at this point by trying to strike some sort of a deal with prosecutors.

euronews: A lot of people here in France don’t like what they see as the beginnings of some kind of “show trial”. Will it be a fair trial, if it does come to it?

T.J. Winick, ABC News: I think it will be a fair trial. I’m not surprised about what folks in France are thinking right now, I saw one poll that said 57% of French people (who were) asked, thought that Dominique Strauss-Kahn was being set up with regards to this trial. I think that’s because there’s certainly a cultural difference in France: you’re not allowed to show pictures of the accused in handcuffs, like we’ve seen of DSK plastered all over the New York City tabloids here. I think that he will – once he is inside the courtroom and this trial begins – that he will get a fair trial. Clearly it’s going to be a “he said – she said” what actually happened in that (hotel) room, but I think the belief is that he will get a fair trial despite a lot of negative pre-trial publicity.

euronews: And that negative pre-trial publicity, will it help the presumed victim, the hotel maid?

T.J.Winick: You know I think it could, I mean everything that we’re hearing right now is in her favour. The DNA evidence that investigators are finding in the hotel room, the fact that she went to authorities right away and did not wait any time, the fact that she was able to pick DSK out of a police line-up fairly easily, and the fact that one of those hotel swipe cards that’s used to get into your room, that places the two of them in his suite at the same time for as much as 15 minutes last Saturday. So I think that everything right now is pointing to the fact that she is a credible alleged victim, a credible witness. And we should mention that she herself has told her attorney that she believes that justice will be served, and she believes in American justice. We know that she’s a mother of one teenage child, she is an immigrant from West Africa where apparently justice was in short supply. So she has faith in the American justice system, we’ll see what happens.

euronews: The case, as you know, is huge here in France: Strauss-Kahn could have become president next year. How big is it in the States and worldwide?

T.J.Winick: That’s an interesting question, you know I think that this case is bigger in France and globally than it is here in the United States, even though the alleged crime happened here in New York City. I think if you asked people here in New York or anywhere across the US 10 days ago who Dominique Strauss-Kahn was, they wouldn’t know. This individual is only a household name now because of this scandal.