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Posted Sunday, September 4, 2011

Strauss-Kahn Appears Headed Back to France

Stan Honda/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York enroute to Paris on Saturday.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the embattled former head of the International Monetary Fund, emerged on Saturday afternoon from a building in TriBeCa where he had been staying for the past few months, dragging heavy pieces of luggage and loading them into the back of a dark blue van.

Accompanied by his wife, Anne Sinclair, Mr. Strauss-Kahn got into the van, grinning as a crowd of photographers rapidly clicked the shutters of their cameras. A moment later the van headed east, apparently bringing to a close a bizarre chapter that began in May, when Mr. Strauss-Kahn was arrested on a plane that was about to depart for France and hauled back to Manhattan where he was charged with the sexual assault of a housekeeper at a Midtown hotel.

Normally a globe-trotter, Mr. Strauss-Kahn led a sedentary life while attending to his criminal case. For much of that time he was under house arrest in Lower Manhattan, staying in two different apartments near the Criminal Courts Building on Centre Street.

On Saturday Mr. Strauss-Kahn was believed to be on his way to his home in France; the driver of the van told reporters that his destination was Kennedy International Airport.

Later in the day, Mr. Strauss-Kahn and Ms. Sinclair were seen going through security at the airport and were believed to be on an Air France flight that departed for Paris at 7:29 p.m., The Associated Press reported.

The airport is where Mr. Strauss-Kahn was forced to extend his stay in the United States, on May 14, when detectives removed him from a plane bound for Paris after the housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, told investigators that he had assaulted her just before leaving the Sofitel New York, near Times Square. Eventually, questions about her credibility arose, and on Aug. 23 a State Supreme Court judge dismissed the charges against Mr. Strauss-Kahn at the request of the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn still faces a civil case filed by Ms. Diallo, but with the end of the criminal case and the return of his passport Mr. Strauss-Kahn regained the mobility that he lost in May.

His rare public appearances during the weeks he was sequestered attracted enormous attention, with an international band of photographers staking out the courts and Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s temporary homes, hoping to capture images of him as he hurriedly got in and out of vehicles and quickly entered or left buildings.

In contrast, his departure on Saturday was almost leisurely. Wearing a dark suit with no necktie, Mr. Strauss-Kahn made several trips between his rented apartment and the blue van, wading through a jostling throng of photographers and camera operators as he carried various bits of luggage. Camera flashes glinted as the group lumbered slowly along with Mr. Strauss-Kahn, loudly urging one another to make space and to refrain from blocking colleagues or competitors.

Tourists, onlookers and neighbors stood nearby, watching. A few reporters shouted questions, but Mr. Strauss-Kahn declined to respond as he made his way through the crowd and heaved bags into the van.

After taking a seat in the vehicle, Mr. Strauss-Kahn held the van door open for a moment, smiling out at the journalists, as in silent farewell, before slamming the door shut and riding off over the cobblestone street.

Reprinted from The New York Times, New York Region, of Sunday, September 4, 2011.


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