A New York court has thrown out the criminal sex assault charges against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss Kahn.
It came after prosecutors said they had doubts about the credibility of his accuser.
The man once seen as a leading French presidential contender should be free to return to France.
A move by the alleged victim’s lawyers to appoint a new prosecutor has been rejected by an appeal court.
Afterwards Strauss-Kahn described his ordeal as a “nightmare”: “It’s the end of a terrible ordeal, I’m relieved for my wife, my children, my friends, all those who have supported me during this period and who also sent letters and emails. They must know that their support has been very important. I look forward to going back to my country but I’ve still got a few small things to do before being able to leave.”
There were protests outside the court at the move to drop the criminal case. Women’s groups in particular believed there was enough evidence to put Strauss Kahn on trial.
In court the prosecution said they did not condone Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour; it is widely accepted a sexual encounter did take place. But they did not think a jury would believe her story “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid on whose testimony this case hinged, was said to have given three different accounts of what happened, as well as having lied over her claim for asylum.
Diallo’s lawyers have accused the District Attorney of failing to see that justice is done. They have launched a civil lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn.
His lawyer has criticised the authorities and the media for rushing to judgement when he was arrested in May.
New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance was just starting a news conference to explain his actions when it was interrupted by the 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Virginia which was felt in New York.