Monday, July 4, 2011

A Plea to Reserve Judgment: The Immigrant Maid in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn Case

The story has something for everybody -- sex, celebrity, money, power, politics, and international intrigue.  The result has been nothing less than a media field day.

Here is the latest in this sensational story.  It now has been reported that the hotel maid who alleges that she was raped by former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn could be deported from the United States following claims that she made false representations under oath in seeking -- and apparently obtaining -- asylum in the United States.

These misrepresentations reportedly were set forth in a letter late last week from the New York City District Attorney's office to Straus-Kahn's defense counsel.  While the alleged victim originally was depicted as a devout Muslim, the facts have revealed what might be termed as more complexities in her character.     

Prosecutors admit that she may have lied about details on her application for asylum, including claiming that she had been gang-raped by soldiers in Guinea.  Investigators said they also found a discrepancy between her account of how she had been subjected to genital mutilation and the version provided in her asylum application. In her asylum application, she said that the home she shared with her husband in Guinea was burned by soldiers.   Her husband was then supposedly tortured in jail and died. According to prosecutors, she later admitted this was a lie.

Prosecutors also said that she cried when she recounted to them the story from her asylum application of how she had been gang-raped in Guinea, but later admitted that this was also a lie.

The Guinean immigrant also reportedly has links to drug dealing and money laundering. 

Needless to say, thigs do not look good for the alleged cime victim.  Still, the jury figuratively remains out in this case.  The maid may in fact be a victim of a crime and a legitimate asylee.  More facts are necessary.  Discrepancies between asylum applications and testimony are relatively common.  Translation errors, memory lapses, and simple mistakes, due in part to resource limitations, in putting together an asylum case often contribute to such inconsistencies.

While the U.S. government could in theory try to strip the maid of her legal status, it will depend in no small part on the precise facts of any alleged inconsistencies and misrepresentations and how clear cut and material they are.  Former Nazis. for example, have been stripped of their legal status and deported when it was proved that they had lied about being Nazis involved in the persecution of others.

From the fog of the current developments in this high profile case of the Guinean maid, it would be a much more difficult case to strip her of asylum.  And as to criminal prosecution for perjury for any alleged lies to the police and prosecution, it seems highly unlikely, to this observer, given what has been made public and the difficulties of proving a perjury charge.


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