Friday, May 20, 2011

Words Fail Me

Tristane Banon refuses to testify in New York because "the presumption of innocence does not exist in the United States." Les bras m'en tombent, or, to put it in Internet Esperanto, WTF?!!


meshplate said...
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meshplate said...

Unbelievable! She must be getting additional legal advice from Bob Badinter! If his victims listen to only Badinter, BHL, Finkielkraut and Lang, they'll soon be convinced that DSK is the victim. Do you think there is a chance that she might be enlightened on this matter? By the French press? By anyone but rabid anti-American ideologues? Are we going to see the perpetuation of absolute rubbish as gospel go unchallenged on this serious matter? Serious not as a matter of fact but for the outcome of the case....

I don't know if you saw it Art but your colleague A Dershowitz has an interview about the DSK case on youtube in which he states that if his defense manages to get evidence of other events like Banon's excluded, they are going to have a real shot at getting him off.

meshplate said...

I note the irony that DSK can't find a smart building to take him because of all the commotion and fuss his being there would cause. Especially not in the lux-type places they want to be. So he'll either have to slum it, or move in with Camille, but maybe her building wouldn't have him either? Anyhow this was a fly in the ointment they hadn't predicted, so it's Rikers at least for another night.

MYOS said...

Can't she be subpoena'ed?

Personally I think that the "gang des 4" promised they'd make her life hell if she testified. After all, they've been handling the "communication" around other events and I know for a fact they're ruthless.

Art, I think you didn't take seriously what Meshplate, Kirk and I have been saying (with disgust) for the past couple days. I understand, because rational, enlightened francophiles (i.e., us :p :p) can't figure out the kind of backwards thinking here right now, let alone believe it ... until they've been through it more than once in person (because once, well, it's just one person, not representative). The idea that "the victim wanted it" is still believed in some circles. It's.... "les bras m'en tombent" tous les jours.
The most enlightened discussion I found was that of Ce soir ou jamais, Taddéi's 'intellectual circle" program, on Monday or Tuesday.
The worst was yesterday's program by Pujadas.

Oddly, I found that talking with "regular people" helped a little. After the initial shock and still many questions, they're talking of the elite closing ranks to protect one of their own and the media reporting only what they want and annointing a new "chouchou".
JFK's "troussage de domestique" one is a sore point because it harks back to a time when commoners weren't even real people, just subjects, and that's how many feel.
There's still distrust toward the American system, since we hear ad nauseam that it's "accusatory" with the defense not being able to access the prosecution's case.

At first many people I talked to identified with DSK - French in the US -, especially since they'd never heard there was any problem with his behavior; but now they don'' any longer: the fact there's DNA evidence when DSK'd said he wasn't even there at the time of the encounter, the fact also that the journalists keep saying "we all knew he was a seducer" like they're trying to excuse themselves AND reveal they'd hidden stuff from the public, presumably protecting a friend.
I've heard pretty severe things from PS friends. Some of the things that have been said may well haunt these leaders in the upcoming months: beside condemning the unilateral belief that DSK can ONLY be innocent and the maid a liar, rank-and-file party members take exception to those who want to cancel the primaries because the guy whom they wanted to win can't run, for example: they feel contempt for elections in that manouver; some are deeply offended by the fact he's still being defended so strongly.
The UMP's don't say anything because they have a very hard time hiding their glee (although they say it'd have been best in January next year.)

However Tristane Banon has said she won't press charges YET. So not all hope is lost.

Oh, by the way, Hollande, about whom Tristane Banon's mother spoke so highly (I need the quote but I think the mother said Hollande was "admirable" throughout the ordeal...) denies he knew anything and anyway it wasn't his job as Head of the PS to discipline its major players. Indeed, if there'd been a problem, the woman should have filed charges, period. I found this despicable.

MYOS said...

@meshplate: I love that irony too.
For all their avowed "openness", how many French families in Neuilly or le 15e would willingly accept a Portuguese or German man who also is a charged-sex-offender in their posh building?

Anonymous said...

Here's an excellent video interview with Denise Bombardier, a Canadian author who was able to convey on France Inter what is so wrong with French attitudes. A welcome moment of sanity:


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Personally I think that the "gang des 4" promised they'd make her life hell if she testified. After all, they've been handling the "communication" around other events and I know for a fact they're ruthless."

"he elite closing ranks to protect one of their own and the media reporting only what they want"

I guess conspiracy theorizing is not limited to any one side.

MYOS said...

Anonymous2, I base my assertion, not on some half-baked hypothesis, but on a couple articles we've seen the past couple days, plus personal knowledge. These guys are ruthless. Then again, it's their job. They put pressure where they need to, too bad if there's collateral damage or even direct damage.
Professional political consultants and spin doctors, especially at that level, aren't choir boys.

Here's an article if you wish to get what I mean:

Another one, in English:

There are some more behind paywalls at Libé and other papers of choice.

The "Gang of 4" were DSK's enforcers. It was their job to spin this "problem" for him and they've already applied pressure upon Tristane Banon back in 2002. Jean Quatremer, the journalist, was told to censor his article because he specifically said DSK MIGHT have a problem in the US where harassment isn't taken lightly. A journalist got an earful and some for the same reason. I don't think it's far-fetched to think they've done it again, no "ooops" included.

Robert said...

This said, what does the Gang of 4 owe DSK any more, since it's now pretty clear he's not going to become president? Or was their loyalty to him based on more than just his political prospects?

Mitch Guthman said...

The whole thing just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

1. No Tristane Banon is terrible, very bad news for the prosecution. Tristane Banon’s story that DSK tried to forcibly rape her would have been fatal evidence against him and almost certainly admissible. She would simply have driven a stake through the heart of any defense DSK could possibly mount. In my view, she would have been an absolutely devastating witness for the prosecution. (What’s more, if the physical evidence turns out to be a bust, she would've been the only corroboration for the hotel maid). I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate how bad it will be for the prosecution if Tristane doesn’t testify.

In theory, it might be possible to subpoena her under the Hague Convention with the assistance of a French court. My understanding is that what you’d get would be a video deposition in France under the supervision of a French judge. I don’t believe there is a way to force her to travel to NY and testify. As a practical matter, trying to get useful testimony from a hostile witness on direct examination is essentially the courtroom version of Russian roulette. (This also means that I wasted about four hours really struggling with the articles about her and the interviews with her mother on the Libé, Rue 89 and Mediapart websites. Killed an entire day for nothing)

I would also like to remind everyone that this trial will be taking place in a court of law and not on cable television or the newspapers. Unfortunately for the prosecution, French “attitudes” and culture won’t be on trial in NYC and therefore the things we have been talking about concerning those subjects will not be admissible. None of it. Neither will evidence about DSK’s “womanizing” or consensual sexual encounters. My belief is that only evidence of sexual encounters involving violence will be admitted. I don’t think the trial court will allow the prosecution to trash DSK as being a dirty old man with roving hands who therefore has a propensity for raping young women. I think only those encounters with women involving a threat of violence or actual force will be admitted. The only one we “knew” about was Tristane, so if she doesn’t testify it’s really bad news for the prosecution.

2. The day’s only ray of sunshine for the prosecution is that the victim’s idiot PI lawyer seems to be keeping his mouth shut. Every time that fool lawyer opened his mouth it was to talk about how poor his client was and how desperately she needed money. I may have a dirtier mind than most people but I think we can all use our imaginations to visualize the many avenues of inquiry this presents to the defense. Maybe he had himself an epiphany or maybe somebody from the DA’s office helped him to see the light but either way, it’s good for the prosecution. The stream of interviews from the family seems to be drying up, too, so maybe the prosecutor sent somebody out there to ride herd on them too.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to sound dumb but who is "Gang of 4"?

MYOS said...

Anonymous10:31pm, here's an article in English about them and their job so far:

Mitch: thank you. Let us hope she stops believing Badinter (whom the French can't believe he might be wrong on anything, including the American justicial system, and thus that his repeated assertion that there's no presumption of innocence in the US is BS).

However the day was bad for the prosecution: the idiot brother Laurence Haim met turned out not to be her brother but a "close friend" (that's why he stopped speaking to the press at every opportunity); apparently, the plaintiff offers a possibility of "she's already lied" defense since she might have lied to get her refugee status, hence killing her perfect sob story of being a lonely widow and a

However, it's impossible a man may have sexually assaulted someone in 2002 and 2011, and no one else ever. Apprently these guys follow a progressive pattern and are repeat offenders.
Especially as journalists now admit he was not only known as a "seducer" but also as an elevator groper. Wouldn't "trying to kiss" or "groping" in an elevator be admissible?

I thought that yesterday in the video he looked rather smug.

Anonymous said...

Those defending DSK are sounding a little pathetic:

Yesterday I had to turn tv off after BHL came onscreen, stating that poor DSK had been sufficiently punished already. A severe-looking woman tried to point out that people in the métro were talking of elites closing ranks.
(although she didn't look like she takes the métro...) but the outraged response was when I turned the tv off.

DavidinParis said...

I have heard it all here in France. In the USA we:

1-execute children (both Italy and France love this one)
2-are racists (true, but making some progress by comparison)
3-have a poor justice system (true, but not unilaterally so)
4-are puritans (hmmm....summer of love, sex in the city, madonna...)
5-are puritans who don't even like sex (speak for yourselves chers amis)
6-are puritans who don't like sex because we do not know how to make love (hard to get real facts on this one)
7-911 was a plot with the CIA and Israel (I heard this then and still hear it time to time)

I am often surprised when my male colleagues refer to women colleagues as 'les filles'. Even the women do this. I gently pointed out that one problem we had in the workplace was not simply due to 'les filles trop excitées' as was summed up by mes confreres, and I stated that to reduce the problem to such was a bit sexist earned me blank stares....even from 'les filles'.

There are many wonderful things here in France, but true equality (emblazoned on all government buildings), women's rights, and sticking to facts and merit are not France's strong suits.

FrédéricLN said...

"No Tristane Banon is terrible" -> I don't think so, as 1) The circumstances of the DSK/Banon meeting are more complicated as those of the DSK/Diallo case (this is not to say that DSK's behaviour, as described by Ms Banon, was right or fair); 2) years later, Ms Banon would hardly be able to bring evidence to assess her testimony (no DNA, no cameras around, and so on).

So, if a conclusion cannot be obtained regarding the Sofitel affair, I don't think the Banon testimony would change much of that.

But I agree with Art, I don't understand the "La présomption d'innocence n'existe pas aux Etats-Unis."