Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief, told police he had diplomatic immunity shortly after he was detained at a New York airport on accusations he tried to rape a hotel maid, court papers showed on Thursday. A redacted timeline of events showed that when police removed Strauss-Kahn from an Air France flight to Paris just minutes before it was due to depart New York’s John F Kennedy Airport on May 14 he asked them, “What is this about?” When told detectives wanted to talk to him about “an incident in the city at a hotel”, Strauss-Kahn was silent and then about 15 minutes later said, “I have diplomatic immunity” and asked to speak with someone from the French Consulate.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, is under house arrest in New York City and has pleaded not guilty to attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.
He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
The former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who resigned a few days after his arrest, does not have full diplomatic immunity, but IMF rules granted him immunity limited to acts performed in his “official capacity”.
The IMF said Strauss-Kahn had been in New York on private business.
On May 14 during his transfer to the Manhattan Special Victims Unit, which deals with sex crimes, from the airport, Strauss-Kahn said: “I need to make a call and let them know I won’t be at my meeting tomorrow”. “These handcuffs are tight,” he added.
Strauss-Kahn had been due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 15 and join euro zone finance ministers in Brussels the following day to discuss the bloc’s debt crisis and how to handle the economic meltdown in Greece.
Later on at the Special Victims Unit, Strauss-Kahn asked to call his lawyer, then asked police if he needed a lawyer. A detective said he had a right to a lawyer, but added that he didn’t know if Strauss-Kahn had diplomatic status. “No, no, no, I’m not trying to use that,” Strauss-Kahn said.
Strauss-Kahn later was asked if he wanted to speak with detectives about the hotel incident, to which he replied: “My attorney has told me not to talk. I was ready to talk.”The timeline was provided by prosecutors to New York Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus and Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers on Thursday. Prosecutors also indicated that they planned to give Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers scientific and medical reports, photographs and drawings and tapes and electronic recordings.
The next court date in the Strauss-Kahn case is July 18.
In case of Abuse!
In reality, most diplomats are representatives of nations with a tradition of professional civil service, and are expected to obey regulations governing their behaviour and they suffer strict internal consequences (disciplinary action) if they flout local laws. In many nations a professional diplomat’s career may be compromised if they (or even members of their family) disobey the local authorities or cause serious embarrassment, and such cases are, at any rate, a violation of the spirit of the Vienna Conventions.
The Vienna Convention is explicit that “without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State.” Nevertheless, in some occasions, diplomatic immunity leads to some unfortunate results; protected diplomats have violated laws (including those that would be violations at home as well) of the host country and that country has been essentially limited to informing the diplomat’s nation that the diplomat is no longer welcome (persona non grata). Diplomatic agents are not, however, exempt from the jurisdiction of their home state, and hence prosecution may be undertaken by the sending state; for minor violations of the law, the sending state may impose administrative procedures specific to the foreign service or diplomatic mission.
Violation of the law by diplomats has included espionage, smuggling, child custody law violations, and even murder: in London in 1984, policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was killed on the street by a person shooting from inside the Libyan embassy. The incident caused a breakdown in diplomatic relations until Libya admitted “general responsibility” in 1999.
- Dominique Strauss-Khan tried to claim diplomatic immunity (guardian.co.uk)
- Strauss-Kahn claimed diplomatic immunity, docs show (ctv.ca)
- Court docs detail arrest of ex-IMF leader in NYC (theglobeandmail.com)