A New York judge dropped all criminal sexual assault charges against ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn this morning.
But the formal end of the case awaited the outcome of a last-ditch emergency appeal.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus accepted the prosecutors' request for dismissal of all charges.
The former head of the International Monetary Fund appeared in court with his wife Anne Sinclair by his side and the pair left the hearing smiling, amid a throng of media.
He later issued a statement saying his life in recent months had been a "nightmare" and that he looked forward to life returning to more normal times.
Strauss-Kahn was not yet free to return to France, after New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus stayed his dismissal of the case for an emergency appeal.
A lawyer for the accuser, a hotel maid, had requested a special prosecutor to continue the criminal case. Earlier today, Obus dismissed the request. But Diallo's lawyers appealed that decision. Obus said the appeal's court would rule on that later on Tuesday, meaning Strauss-Kahn must await that verdict before he is free to return to France.