Muted response to prospect of Strauss-Kahn return

Updated: 2011-08-24 22:40


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Muted response to prospect of Strauss-Kahn return

Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn listens during a hearing at New York State Supreme Court in New York, August 23, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS - Cleared of sex assault charges, Dominique Strauss-Kahn could be back in France within days but may not get a hero's welcome, if sober newspaper editorials and cautious statements by his Socialist allies are anything to go by.

Newspapers focused on Wednesday on the stain to his image from his liaison with a New York hotel maid and his political allies reluctant to speculate on his plans.

Strauss-Kahn could be home as early as next week, after settling his affairs in Washington where he was based as head of the International Monetary Fund until his mid-May arrest on attempted rape charges, which were dropped on Tuesday.

His lawyer in France, Henri Leclerc, said he was not aware of a set date for Strauss-Kahn to return.

Far from celebrating the exoneration of a man who had been pegged as France's next president before his arrest and who has long been affectionately known in France by his initials DSK, newspaper editorials were sober and reflective.

"Far from being cleared, DSK will now have to live with, rather like another kind of sentence, the suspicious regard of public opinion," wrote Yves Threard in the daily Le Figaro.

Left-wing Liberation ran its story under the headline: "One dismissal but three ball-and-chains" referring to the three open legal cases against Strauss-Kahn relating to alleged misconduct.

The main opposition Socialist Party, which lost its top economic thinker with Strauss-Kahn's downfall, has cheered the dropping of charges but given no indication of what role he might play in the future, focusing instead on preparing for its annual congress this weekend in the seaside town of La Rochelle.

Segolene Royal, one of a handful of Socialist presidential hopefuls, sought to change the subject when pressed on BFM TV to talk about Strauss-Kahn. "I don't want to comment about this. I will not discuss his future activities," she said.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who polls show could win around 13 percent of the vote in the first election round in April, said the dropping of all the criminal sex assault charges left a "nauseating" and "bitter" taste in the mouth.

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