PARIS (Reuters) - Paris prosecutors received a legal complaint on Wednesday filed by French writer Tristane Banon alleging that former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn attempted to rape her in 2003, a judicial source said.
The source said prosecutors were examining the complaint, which has thrown up a new hurdle to any political comeback by Strauss-Kahn, pegged as a frontrunner for the 2012 presidential election before his arrest in May in a New York assault case.
French prosecutors will either decide there are no grounds to pursue the case or will open a preliminary investigation. Depending on their conclusions, they could then push the case up a level to an investigating magistrate.
The complaint comes just as charges in New York that Strauss-Kahn allegedly tried to rape a hotel chambermaid seem to be unravelling.
New York prosecutors, whose case has been weakened by doubts over the maid's credibility, were to meet Strauss-Kahn's lawyers on Wednesday to discuss whether the case could be resolved through a dismissal or a plea agreement, the New York Times reported. The next scheduled court appearance is July 18.
Banon, 32, alleges that Strauss-Kahn tried to force himself on her during an interview in an otherwise empty Paris apartment when she was in her early twenties.
A journalist and author of three books, she gave a graphic description of the alleged assault during a television talk show in 2007, with Strauss-Kahn's name bleeped out, but has not taken legal action before this week.
Strauss-Kahn plans to counter claim against Banon, one of his lawyers has said, a routine procedure in France.
Attempted rape carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in France. It was unclear, however, whether there would be enough evidence so long after the facts to support a court case.
(Reporting by Sophie Louet and Thierry Leveque; Writing by Leigh Thomas; editing by Catherine Bremer and Jason Neely)