The French political bigshot who heads the International Monetary Fund
was arrested for allegedly sodomizing a Manhattan hotel maid yesterday -- hauled off an Air France flight just moments before takeoff from Kennedy Airport, police sources said.
Three Port Authority detectives pulled Dominique Strauss-Kahn from the plane's first-class cabin just two minutes before it was due to depart for Paris, according to the police sources.
Strauss-Kahn, 62 -- who was expected to challenge French President Nicholas Sarkozy in the 2012 election -- was turned over to NYPD officers and brought to the Special Victims Unit's uptown squad room.
Strauss-Kahn is awaiting arraignment on charges of a criminal sex act, attempted **** and unlawful imprisonment, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
The trouble began at around 1 p.m. yesterday when a 32-year-old housekeeper entered Strauss-Kahn's $3,000-a-night suite at the luxury Sofitel
on West 44th Street -- apparently unaware he was still inside.
The married Strauss-Kahn was in the bathroom, and emerged naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where "he jumps her," a source said.
"She pulled away from him and he dragged her down a hallway into the bathroom where he engaged in a criminal sexual act, according to her account to detectives," Browne said. "He tried to lock her into the hotel room."
Soon afterward, Strauss-Kahn got dressed and headed off to JFK for a flight to Paris.
When he was approached on the plane by Port Authority cops, he said, "What is this about?" sources said. He was taken off the aircraft without handcuffs.
Two law-enforcement sources said Strauss-Kahn was trying to flee authorities. Police said he left his cellphone and other personal items in the room.
"It looked like he got out of there in a hurry," Browne said.
Strauss-Kahn, who had a meeting planned for today with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
in Berlin, has an arrangement with Air France that allows him to get on any flight and sit in first class, the sources said. He was traveling alone.
Browne said Strauss-Kahn does not have diplomatic immunity. He was expected to be brought to court today. High-profile criminal defense lawyer Ben Brafman told The Post he will be defending Strauss-Kahn -- but by late last night, had not yet spoken with him.
The victim was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where she was treated for trauma.
The shocking arrest came hours after a Socialist Party
ally of Strauss-Kahn accused Sarkozy of kicking off a smear campaign against his longtime rival -- focusing on his lavish lifestyle, including his preference for suits from the same tailor favored by President Obama.
"There is now a totally structured and orchestrated campaign, which has already been announced by Mr. Sarkozy and his closest allies, to attack the character of Strauss-Kahn," Socialist politician Jean-Marie Le Guen told Europe 1 radio.
Strauss-Kahn's stint at the helm of the IMF in Washington does not officially end until September 2012, several months after the scheduled date of France's presidential vote.
But the French political world has been buzzing with speculation that the man popularly known as "DSK" would bring a premature end to his tenure and throw his hat in the ring.
And some opinion polls suggested he would win.
In France's 2007 elections, Strauss-Kahn lost the Socialist nomination to Segolene Royal, who in turn was defeated in the general election by Sarkozy, leader of the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement.
But Sarkozy, who still sees Strauss-Kahn as his likeliest electoral rival, is believed to have maneuvered Strauss-Kahn out of France by backing him to head the Washington-based IMF.
A spokeswoman for the State Department had no comment, nor did a spokesperson for the French Embassy. The IMF did not return calls seeking comment.