Ex-IMF chief Strauss-Kahn returns home to France

PARIS (AP) — Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn returned home to France on Sunday for the first time since a New York hotel maid accused him of attempted rape, unleashing an international scandal that dashed his chances for the French presidency.

New York prosecutors later dropped their case against Strauss-Kahn because of questions about the maid’s credibility.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, had been the pollsters’ favorite to win next year’s presidential elections in France before his May arrest. Few expect him to return to French politics soon, but his supporters have been eagerly awaiting his return after three months of legal drama in the U.S.

Strauss-Kahn emerged from an Air France flight from New York’s JFK Airport early Sunday and gave a brief wave. He did not speak to the large crowd, primarily of reporters, gathered at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport.

His wife, Anne Sinclair, was at his side, beaming widely. Riot police protected him and the area.

The last time he tried to take an Air France flight out of JFK, Strauss-Kahn was pulled out of first class minutes before takeoff by police investigating the maid’s claim that hours earlier, Strauss-Kahn had forced her to perform oral sex and tried to rape her.

He quit his job, spent almost a week in jail, then six weeks of house arrest and nearly two more months barred from leaving the country before Manhattan prosecutors dropped the case last month, saying they no longer trusted the maid, Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo.

Diallo is continuing to press her claims in a lawsuit. Strauss-Kahn denies the allegations.

The Associated Press does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified or come forward publicly, as Diallo has done.

Strauss-Kahn faces another investigation in France over attempted rape, based on accusations by a French novelist. He calls the claim “imaginary.”

Until his arrest, Strauss-Kahn was considered the Socialist Party’s front-runner to take on conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy next year.

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Ted Shaffrey and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.

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