NEW YORK (AFP) – Defense lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn say they have information which could "gravely undermine" the credibility of the New York hotel maid accusing the former IMF chief of trying to rape her.
The threat appeared in a long letter from attorneys William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in which they complained about what they said were "continual" leaks by police aimed at damaging their client's case.
Responding, the DA's office said in a letter Thursday it was "troubled" by the threat about damaging information on the maid and said: "We are aware of no such information."
|AFP/File – Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Khan (C) leaves his temporary house under guard in New York|
According to Taylor and Brafman, "we could now release substantial information that in our view would seriously undermine the quality of this prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant in this case," the letter said.
No further information was given about the nature of the information, but the mention raised new tensions ahead of a June 6 court hearing when Strauss-Kahn is expected to plead not guilty to the sex assault charges.
Brafman and Taylor complained to Vance that leaked information about the police investigation was feeding a "media frenzy."
The leaks have been "recklessly injected into the public arena with the potential of permanently prejudicing potential jurors who are being exposed to these materials on a daily basis."
The letter, sent Wednesday, asks Vance to stop the media leaks.
"We are requesting that you use whatever resources are appropriate to stop further leaking immediately," the attorneys ask, also demanding that they be given access to any evidence already mentioned in the anonymous leaks.
They said they would repeat the demands formally on June 6 before Judge Michael Obus.
In their response, prosecutors from the District Attorney's office said they were also concerned by leaks and had "communicated our position in that regard to members of law enforcement outside of this office."
However, the DA's office slammed the threat regarding the maid, saying "we were troubled that you chose to inject into the public record your claim that you possess information that might negatively impact the case.
"If you really do possess the kind of information you suggest that you do, we trust you will forward it immediately to the District Attorney's Office."
The defense lawyers' letter, which is also copied to Obus, mentions in particular a New York Times report detailing the police narrative of how the alleged crime unfolded in the Manhattan Sofitel suite occupied by Strauss-Kahn on May 14.
It also mentions leaked reports about the discovery of DNA traces from Strauss-Kahn on the maid's clothing.
"We can cite to dozens of other prejudicial articles and news stories that have appeared in recent days in which confidential police sources have provided a wide array of prejudicial information about Mr Strauss-Kahn, including information which even if true, would never be admissible in any court."