New Details in Dominique Strauss Kahn Case: A Set-Up?
Update: Sofitel responds, via The Daily Beast. It says the video celebration lasted only 8 seconds and might have been about sports. It says the guest in 2820 checked out at 11:36 am and Diallo cleaned the room shortly thereafter.
Investigative journalist Edward Epstein provides new details in the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the Sofitel hotel maid in the New York Review of Books. Epstein says he had access to the hotel's electronic key swipe records and time-stamped hotel security camera videotapes. He also reviewed cell phone records for a phone used on May 14 by Accor security employee John Sheehan. Accor owns the Sofitel.
The Guardian details Epstein's findings if you don't want to take the time to read his entire report.[More...]
It turns out, according to Epstein, there was a guest still in suite 2820, the one that Nafissitou Diallo went in and out of several times that morning. Who was it? Unknown. The hotel refused to say, and prosecutors say they didn't have it declared a crime scene and examined because Diallo had lied initially and denied re-entering it. Then there's the videotape Epstein viewed and describes:
At 12:51 pm, hotel engineer Brian Yearwood goes up to the DSK suite. At 12:52 pm, Diallo and an unidentified man enter the service area of the 1st floor, outside the hotel security office. Yearwood comes down from the suite and joins her at 12:56. She is then questioned by Adrian Branch, with Yearwood nearby. At 1:31 pm, Branch calls the police.
Less then two minutes after the call to the police, the video shows Yearwood, and the unidentified man who had accompanied Diallo to the security area, outside the area in which Diallo is recounting her story to Branch:
“The two men high-five each other, clap their hands and do what looks like an extraordinary dance of celebration that lasts for three minutes,”
The video then shows the two men standing by the service door "apparently waiting for the police to arrive."
And the missing Blackberry that DSK had called the hotel about on his way to the airport: Although it has never been found, its GPS circuitry and ability to make calls or send messages was disabled at 12:51 pm, less than an hour after the hotel encounter. DSK had received a text message earlier that day warning him that it might have been hacked as an e-mail he had sent to his wife that morning turned up at Sarkosy's party headquarters. DSK had called his wife and asked her to ask a friend to arrange to have the Blackberry and his iPad checked for signs of hacking.
All very odd, to say the least. Especially the part about room 2820 still being occupied. Diallo repeatedly said she had already cleaned that room, but isn't that unlikely if the guest was still in it? Was her earlier visit to to with the occupant rather than clean it? On the other hand, wouldn't we have heard by now that the room was still dirty at 12:26, when she entered it after leaving DSK's room, the final entry she forgot to tell police about until confronted with the key card entry data?
As DSK acknowledged a hurried sexual encounter with Diallo, but Diallo was only in the room for 6 to 7 minutes, Epstein's report does raise the question of whether Diallo was recruited by whoever was in 2820 to initiate the encounter.
Why did the police and prosecutors not have this video? It's obvious the defense hadn't seen it and if the prosecution had it, they would have had to turn it over.
I hope Epstein releases the videotape and gets access to the records showing who was in 2820 and what time they checked out.
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