IMF head may leave jail for house arrest; Police look for DNA in hotel carpet

NEW YORK (AP) - Investigators cut out a piece of carpet in a painstaking search of a penthouse suite for DNA evidence that could corroborate a hotel maid's claim that IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

The Washington Post reported Strauss-Kahn will be able to leave the Rikers Island jail and transition to 24-hour-a-day house arrest and electronic monitoring of his movements at his daughter's apartment in New York while awaiting trial.

The IMF chief proposed the electronic monitoring and "home detention" in a plea for release filed by his lawyers in the New York Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Post wrote. Strauss-Kahn's attorneys said in a statement they were confident that their client would be released after a second bail hearing scheduled for Thursday.

New York detectives and prosecutors believe the carpet in the hotel room may contain Strauss-Kahn's semen, spat out after an episode of forced oral sex, the officials said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

In addition to examining the Sofitel Hotel suite for further potential DNA evidence, investigators were looking at the maid's keycard to determine whether she used it to enter the room, and how long she was there, officials said.

One of the officials said that the DNA testing was being "fast-tracked" but that the results could still be a few days away.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to speak about the case publicly and because it has gone to a grand jury.

The maid, a 32-year-old immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea, told police that the 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom naked, chased her down, forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to remove her underwear before she broke free and fled the room.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly declined to comment Wednesday on the details of the evidence-gathering but said results of any DNA and other testing have not yet come back. He said the detectives investigating the case found the maid's story believable.

"Obviously, the credibility of the complainant is a factor in cases of this nature," Kelly said. "One of the things they're trained to look for, and what was reported to me early on, was that the complainant was credible."

The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment Wednesday, as did one of Strauss-Kahn's attorneys, Benjamin Brafman. Brafman said at his client's arraignment this week that the forensic evidence "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter." That led to speculation the defense will argue it was
consensual sex.

In court papers filed Wednesday, Strauss-Kahn's attorneys proposed posting $1 million cash bail and confining him to a Manhattan residence 24 hours a day, along with electronic monitoring. The attorneys had proposed similar conditions at a
hearing on Monday, when Strauss-Kahn was denied bail.

Strauss-Kahn is one of France's most high-profile politicians and was seen as a potential candidate for president in next year's elections. His arrest shocked France.

The maid's lawyer, Jeffrey Shapiro, dismissed suggestions from some of Strauss-Kahn's defenders that she made up the charges or tried to cover up a consensual encounter.

The scandal comes at a critical moment for the International Monetary Fund, which is trying to shore up teetering economies in Europe. The IMF is an immensely powerful agency that loans money to countries to stabilize the world economy. In exchange it often imposes strict austerity measures.