Dominique Strauss-Kahn blames Sarkozy for downfall, in UK interview

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Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn accused his political enemies linked to French President Nicolas Sarkozy of destroying his bid for the presidency, in a British newspaper interview on Friday.

Strauss-Kahn told 'The Guardian' that he believes his highly public fall from grace was orchestrated by his opponents to prevent him from standing as the Socialist candidate in the French election which culminates next week.

The ex-International Monetary Fund boss had been the favourite to win the presidential election until May last year, when he was arrested in New York and accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo.

Strauss-Kahn said that although he did not believe the incident with Diallo was a setup, the subsequent escalation of the event into a criminal investigation was "shaped by those with a political agenda".

"Perhaps I was politically naive, but I simply did not believe that they would go that far -- I didn't think they could find anything that could stop me," Strauss-Kahn told the paper.

The Guardian says it is clear that the "they" refers to people working for Sarkozy and his UMP party.

Strauss-Kahn accuses the agents of intercepting phone calls and ensuring that Diallo went to the police in New York to make her accusations.

He has admitted a sexual encounter with Diallo but says it was consensual.

The interview was carried out by US journalist Edward Jay Epstein, whose ebook on the scandal, titled "Three Days in May", is published on Monday.

Polls show that the man who won the Socialist party's presidential nomination, Francois Hollande, is expected to win the election run-off against Sarkozy on May 6.

Strauss-Kahn said he was sure he would now be in Hollande's shoes had it not been for the events in the Sofitel hotel in New York on May 14 last year.

"I planned to make my formal announcement on 15 June and I had no doubt I would be the candidate of the Socialist party," he said.

Strauss-Kahn, 63, based his allegations about the New York incident on his own research into the hotel's CCTV footage and had been aided by a private detective service, The Guardian said.

Following his arrest, Strauss-Kahn was paraded in handcuffs, held in prison and then forced to live under house arrest. He quit his job as IMF chief and did not put himself forward as Socialist candidate for the election.

New York prosecutors dropped criminal charges against him in August, saying that the maid's story was undermined by lies and inconsistencies.

A US judge is expected to rule next week whether he will face a civil lawsuit filed by Diallo accusing him of sexual assault.

The Guardian said Strauss-Kahn had refused to discuss a separate sex scandal that has since erupted, saying he was under legal restrictions.

He has been charged over a French investigation into a network that imported sex workers from Belgian brothels to France for orgies in high-class hotels in Lille and Paris.

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