Cambridge students plan to protest DSK appearance

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By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Students opposed to a Cambridge University appearance by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief accused of sexual assault, have invited his accuser's lawyer to speak there the same day.

The one-time French political star, also known as DSK, is due to speak on Europe's financial crisis at the Cambridge Union debating society Friday.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund after allegations last May that he sexually assaulted New York hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo. Prosecutors later dropped criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn, but Diallo has brought a civil case against him.

In an unrelated case, he was questioned by police in Lille, France, last month about a suspected hotel prostitution ring.

Cambridge Union spokeswoman Sophie Odenthal said Thursday that the invitation had been made well before the sexual assault allegations; the union's president, Katie Lam, has said it first invited Strauss Kahn in early 2010.

"We invited him a very long time ago due to his then-role as head of the IMF and his experience of French politics," Odenthal said.

Members of the student union's women's campaign collected more than 700 signatures on a petition asking the union to revoke the invitation.

They have scheduled Diallo lawyer Douglas Wigdor to speak at a separate meeting at the university, and plan to protest outside Strauss-Kahn's speech.

Ruth Graham, women's officer for the student union, said the prestigious 800-year-old university should not be involved in a "rehabilitation campaign" for Strauss-Kahn. She also accused the debating society of courting publicity with the invitation.

"The last time they invited a former head of the IMF, about 12 people turned up," Graham said. "They're not doing it because of his academic credentials. They are doing it to profit from the controversy."

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