Benjamin Brafman
Benjamin Brafman. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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The lawyer of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn told Haaretz Sunday that his client would be acquitted of the sexual assault charges that have shocked the economic world.

"He'll plead not guilty and in the end he'll be acquitted," said attorney Benjamin Brafman in his first interview since his client was arrested last week for the alleged attack on a New York City chambermaid.

Brafman, on a short trip to Israel to attend to family obligations, spent the weekend in north Jerusalem with his son - a rabbi - and his grandchildren.

Brafman met with Haaretz while he was on his way to light a Lag Ba'omer bonfire with the grandchildren.

Brafman, 62, is used to scandals and high-profile cases. He has defended Michael Jackson, crime boss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, online gambling king Jay Cohen and rapper Jay-Z. Another of his clients, rapper Sean Combs, gave him the nickname "Uncle Benny."

Brafman's law partner knew Strauss-Kahn personally and put Brafman in touch with the Paris-born economist, who was also a French presidential hopeful.

Brafman declined to discuss the details of the case and seemed irritated by French media reports that the former head of the International Monetary Fund was obsessed with sex. But he was glad to share his opinion of the New York Police Department, noting that the authorities are under heavy pressure to act aggressively when dealing with high-profile suspects.

Brafman said that if Strauss-Kahn had not been famous and had not been a foreigner, the court would not have demanded the high $6 million bail.

Brafman, who said he was very impressed with his client, said he was certain Strauss-Kahn was ready for a long fight. While Strauss-Kahn was dealing with the situation well, he was not happy about being accused of something he did not do, Brafman added.

The lawyer was up to his neck in the case until Thursday, when he flew to Israel. He will return to New York tonight.

From his son's villa in north Jerusalem, well-protected by a security system, he fielded transatlantic calls from his partners.

Brafman's family fled Europe to the United States just before World War II. He received an ultra-Orthodox education, but does not wear a skullcap as a rule.

Even in a short conversation, it is hard not to be impressed by Brafman's verbal skills. He is sharp, tense and knows how to get what he wants.

Two years ago he told an ultra-Orthodox audience in Borough Park, Brooklyn, that the rabbi of the yeshiva where he had studied said God had blessed him with the ability to communicate, told him to use it, and threw him out of the yeshiva.