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Italian journalist makes DSK sex assault claims

An Italian journalist has claimed that disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her while he was France’s finance minister in the late 1990s, it was reported on Wednesday.

Italian journalist makes DSK sex assault claims
Italian journalist Myrta Merlion (L) has claimed that disgraced former IMF chief DSK (R, with Myriam l’Aouffir) sexually assaulted her in the late 90s. Photos: Klauscondicio/Youtube/A. Pizzoli/AFP

The journalist, now aged 44, made the accusations in a YouTube interview with Italian journalist Klaus Davi. Myrta Merlino claimed Strauss-Kahn, known as DSK in France, sexually assaulted her in his swanky hotel suite on the fringes of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on an unspecified date in the “late 1990s”.

She alleges that in looking for an interview with DSK during the course of the conference, she had caught his eye.

Then, after luring her to his hotel suite with the promise of an interview, DSK demanded that the photographer who had been accompanying Merlino stay outside the room.

Merlino reluctantly agreed.

“I sat down in an armchair. He offered me a big glass of champagne, and we began talking about everything except for the interview,” said Merlino, according to the YouTube video.

“Then DSK told me he adored journalists. I replied that his wife was a terrific woman and journalist,” she said, in reference to DSK’s then wife, French-American TV journalist Anne Sinclair, who divorced him earlier this year.

“Then I got up and, pushing me violently against the wall, he tried to kiss me,” said Merlino.

“I gave him a violent slap, I stormed off and with great difficulty, fled [from the room]” she added.

Merlino went on to say she was shocked by the assault and very angry about what she called the “psychological violence of a powerful man.”

For his part, DSK’s lawyer Richard Malka told French weekly Le Point, which first reported the story in the French media, that he was not “abreast of developments” and had no comment to make.

Merlion’s claims come after DSK made something of a return to French public life recently, making a rare and unexpected appearance at the Cannes film festival two weeks ago.

DSK, 64, was accompanied on the red carpet by his new girlfriend, the Morocco-born French marketing executive Myriam l’Aouffir, 45.

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ECONOMY

Italy’s economic policies will hit the poor hardest: IMF

Economic policies implemented by the populist government in Rome leave Italy's economy vulnerable to recession, with the poorest likely to suffer the most, the IMF warned.

Italy's economic policies will hit the poor hardest: IMF
Italy's economic policies could lead to recession, the IMF said. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

“The authorities' policies could leave Italy vulnerable to a renewed loss of market confidence,” an International Monetary Fund annual report on the country said yesterday.

“Italy could then be forced into a notable fiscal contraction, pushing a weakening economy into a recession. The burden would fall disproportionately on the vulnerable,” the IMF added.

The Italian economy, the eurozone's third largest, fell into a technical recession at the end of 2018.

The fund expects the Italian economy to grow by no more than 0.6 percent this year, well below the government's own estimate of 1.0 percent.

The European Commission is tipped to lower its Italian growth forecast on Thursday, and slower growth could spell trouble for Italy, where around 20 percent of national output is swallowed up each year by payments on the public debt, the second biggest in the eurozone.

Photo: Depositphotos

The IMF report praised the coalition government's “objective to improve economic and social outcomes (as) welcome.”

But it added that the only sustainable way of achieving such goals was through “faster potential growth” that would require structural reforms, “a credible fiscal consolidation” and stronger bank balance sheets.

The coalition government of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League party was forced to water down its ambitious and costly budget in December to avoid being punished by the EU Commission and financial markets.

The IMF report emphasised Wednesday that Italy “needs to tackle long-standing structural impediments to productivity growth. 

“This includes decentralising the wage bargaining regime, liberalising service markets, and improving the business climate.”

Deputy Prime Minister and M5S leader Luigi Di Maio quickly rejected the IMF report, charging that the Fund “has starved people for decades.”

The IMF, Di Maio claimed, “has no credibility to criticise a measure like the citizenship income programme,” the party's plan to introduce a welfare payment of 780 euros a month for Itay's least well-off.

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