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DSK courtroom carousel moves back to US

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, mired in legal trouble in his native France, faces new courtroom worries across the Atlantic on Wednesday, with the first hearing in a US civil suit.

The hearing in New York state court in the Bronx will be the first in a civil suit brought by the hotel maid whose accusation of attempted rape last year triggered the downfall of one of the world’s most powerful politicians.

Although US prosecutors tossed out criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn after deciding that Nafissatou Diallo’s allegations would not stand up in court, the maid’s lawyers later filed a civil suit seeking unspecified damages.

“She wants recognition of her status as a victim and the reality of the attack she suffered,” her French lawyer Thibault de Montbrial told French television channel LCI.

He said Diallo was still employed by the Sofitel hotel and expected to go back to work there at some point, adding that she still required treatment on her shoulder, “which was injured during the assault.”

Strauss-Kahn and Diallo are neither required, nor expected, to be present in court.

Judge Douglas McKeon is due to start by hearing arguments on whether the suit should be dismissed because Strauss-Kahn had diplomatic immunity as head of the International Monetary Fund when he was arrested May 14.

The ruling may not come for several weeks, McKeon told AFP. However, unless Strauss-Kahn settles, the arguments could prove to be the first salvo in open court of a drawn-out and bitter battle between Strauss-Kahn’s powerful legal team and lawyers for Diallo.

Allegations in the civil suit are much the same as the criminal charges initially lodged against Strauss-Kahn: that Diallo went to clean his luxury hotel suite in Manhattan and came under brutal sexual assault.

The fallen politician, who at the time of the incident had been seen as a favorite to win France’s presidency, has said that a sexual encounter took place in his hotel room but insists it was consensual.

Meanwhile, in France, Strauss-Kahn was charged Monday with “aggravated pimping” in an unrelated sex case. He could face a sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say Strauss-Kahn was involved in an organized vice ring that supplied prostitutes for orgies with wealthy men. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers say he attended group sex parties but did not know the women were paid to be there.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

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