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May 25, 2011

Extradite Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Jayne Lyn Stahl

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If the authorities in New York decide to try International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of alleged attempted rape, sodomy, and false imprisonment of a 32-year-old French maid at the five star Hotel Sofitel, the French government should insist Strauss-Khan be extradited to France to face charges.

As Fox, Daily News show, the sensationalist news climate in the U.S. renders it impossible for any prominent figure to get a fair trial on sex charges. Blame it on our Puritanical roots.

Make no mistake, there is no question that attempted rape, and false imprisonment are serious crimes. But, there are equally serious questions as to whether or not the narrative in the press has obviated any plausible defense such that, before a trial date has even been set, the prosecution rests.

And, in what the Bush administration would like us to believe is the "new normal," a trial by jury has instantly morphed into a trial by fury. In light of this, the logical thing for Strauss-Kahn's counsel to do would be to request a change of venue.

Whatever illusions we had of the presumption of innocence have been routinely dispelled by the railroading of such political figures as John Edwards, Gary Hart, and Bill Clinton.

The tabloids and the paparazzi ultimately stalked Edwards for months until they found the smoking gun, which consisted not of establishing a covert "kill squad" to assassinate foreign leaders, but instead to have a secret love affair while his wife was dying of cancer. Poor judgment -- yes, poor character, maybe, but criminal activity; not. That said, there are ongoing efforts to prosecute Edwards.

No rational person can expect the IMF head to get a fair trial in the U.S., given that the last president we impeached for lying to a grand jury about his extramarital affair with an intern.

Not one plausible argument has been put forward by anyone in the mainstream American media about the amazing coincidence that a man who may be said to have a history of aggressing on women would get caught so close to a pivotal presidential election in France. That is, except for the New York Times which notes that "Well before Mr. Strauss-Kahn's arrest there had been reports that Mr. Sarkozy was gathering information to discredit Mr. Strauss-Kahn should he run for president."

There have been many different accounts of what happened in that hotel room on Saturday afternoon before Mr. Strauss-Kahn's departure for his flight back to Paris. One account suggests that the maid, whose identity cannot be released, was dragged from the foyer into the bathroom, and that she was later treated for minor injuries.

Every account so far agrees that the chambermaid entered Kahn's room thinking that he had already checked out, something that has happened to me once or twice when I forgot to use the chain lock, or put up the "Do Not Disturb" sign. All accounts agree, too, that he had just gotten out of the shower, and was naked when she entered. I don't know anyone who takes a shower with his clothes on, do you? Where it goes from there is dicey, and the details get murky.

As the NYT also suggests, there are some in France who believe the Sofitel incident was a "set-up" masterminded by French president Sarkozy to ruin his biggest rival. Mr. Kahn is widely considered Sarkozy's Socialist nemesis.

Ostensibly, something criminal, or extraordinarily embarrassing, would force someone to flee a hotel room the way Strauss-Kahn did, but there hasn't been one narrative put forward in his defense. He's already been effectively prosecuted by the Murdoch-controlled media, in the U.S., which would incline to favor a Sarkozy win.

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but is it random, and irrelevant that this happened at the Hotel "Sofitel," a French hotel, and the maid, too, is rumored to be French, and this event coincidentally happens in the lead-up to a major presidential campaign? No one would be so cynical as to suggest that the maid lied, only that she may have been persuaded to exaggerate a bit, or not tell the whole story.

But, regardless what happened in that hotel room, Mr. Kahn is now in U.S. custody, and should litigation be pursued in this country, remember that U.S. law requires a trial by one's "peers." This would mean that Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Erik Prince, and others would be among those selected to sit on the jury. Doubtless, they will be unavailable for jury duty.

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Dotan Rousso. Holds a Ph.D. in Law—a former criminal prosecutor in Israel. Currently working as a college professor in Canada.

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