, LILLE, France, Feb 2 – Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn goes on trial Monday accused of “pimping” as part of a prostitution ring, four years after a sex scandal cost him his job and a shot at the French presidency.
The disgraced 65-year-old economist finds himself back in the dock – this time in the northern French city of Lille – on charges related to his role in a vice ring in which his entourage organised sex parties for him in Brussels, Paris and Washington.
The silver-haired Strauss-Kahn is due to attend the first day of the trial in the presence of around 250 journalists, expected to cram the court and an overflow room during hearings, which get under way at 1300 GMT.
Lurid details of group sex and high-end prostitution are expected to emerge in the three-week trial, during which Strauss-Kahn will take the stand alongside a colourful cast of characters including luxury hotel managers, police, freemasons and a brothel owner nicknamed “Dodo the Pimp.”
The pimping charge against Strauss-Kahn is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million).
Before getting down to the nitty-gritty, the court will on Monday deal with a host of procedural applications, including a request for the trial to take place behind closed doors from one of the prostitutes testifying.
The court will also mull a request to have the trial declared invalid, over allegations investigations were secretly being carried out for eight months before the opening of an official enquiry.
The trial will be the latest in a series of legal woes that have offered judges and journalists a peek behind the bedroom door of a man once tipped as a potential challenger to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The ex-head of the International Monetary Fund, known in France as DSK, saw his career implode in 2011 when he was paraded handcuffed in front of the world’s cameras after a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault.
While those criminal charges were dropped and the case settled in a civil suit, further humiliation ensued as a litany of sordid tales emerged.
Then, six months after the scandal in New York, his name cropped up in an investigation into a prostitution ring in northern France and Belgium known as the “Carlton Affair” after one of the swish hotels in Lille where local businessmen and police officials organised sex parties.