FRANCE, Jun 10 – A French court will rule Friday on whether ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is guilty of pimping charges after a trial which exposed lurid details of champagne-fuelled orgies and the world of prostitution.
The 66-year-old economist, who was once tipped to become French president, went on trial in February charged with procuring prostitutes to attend sex parties in Brussels, Paris and Washington.
In the dock, the former head of the International Monetary Fund calmly fended off the court’s accusations, saying that while he was a swinger who enjoyed group sex, he was unaware any of the woman attending the soirees had been paid to be there.
However he lost his temper as lawyers pushed the former prostitutes to recount brutal scenes in which he sodomised them, allegedly without their permission, saying he was not on trial for “deviant practices”.
In closing arguments his lawyers said the case against him had “collapsed” into nothing more than an indictment of Strauss-Kahn’s morals, and the main prosecutor appeared to agree.
Frederic Fevre called for Strauss-Kahn to be acquitted of charges of “aggravated pimping” saying that “neither the judicial enquiry nor the hearing have established that Mr Strauss-Kahn is guilty”.
Even before the trial in the northern French city of Lille, Fevre said he was not convinced there was a strong case against the former political heavyweight and asked for the charges to be dropped. However he was overruled by investigative judges who sent the case to trial.
In another boost for Strauss-Kahn, two ex-prostitutes who attended the orgies dropped a civil lawsuit against him, with lawyers saying they lacked enough proof to win the case.
The trial was the latest humiliation for the man whose high-flying career was torpedoed by accusations of sexual assault by a New York hotel maid in May 2011, a case later settled in a civil suit.
He was charged with pimping shortly after the New York scandal when his name cropped up in a probe into a prostitution ring in northern France, which provided sex workers for orgies he attended.
Strauss-Kahn found himself in the dock alongside a colourful cast of 13 characters including a senior police officer and brothel owner Dominique Alderweireld, known as “Dodo the Pimp”.
Dodo admits providing prostitutes to friends of Strauss-Kahn, who are among the accused and testified to keeping the women’s true nature a secret as they sought to impress the “future president of the republic”.
While prostitution in itself is legal in France, encouraging and organising its practice is considered to be procuring and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
– ‘Deviant practices’ –
Strauss-Kahn has said paying for sex would be too great a risk for a man at the head of the IMF, which was busy “saving the world” from the financial crisis that began in 2008.
Former prostitute Jade, who attended several of the sex parties, said that on a trip to Washington Strauss-Kahn’s friends told her to pretend she was a secretary, but maintains the economist would be “naive” not to have realised she was a prostitute.
Strauss-Kahn lashed out at the “absurd” need for these details in a case in which he is accused of aiding and abetting the prostitution of seven women.
“I must have a sexuality which, compared to average men, is more rough. Women have the right not to like that whether they are prostitutes or not,” he said Wednesday.
However he said he was not on trial for “deviant practices”.
Strauss-Kahn argues he is a libertine engaging in sex parties with a group of friends, including couples, arguing he often came with a female companion himself. He said he was “horrified” by the use of prostitutes.
He said the testimony of Jade, who told how he took her on a tour of the IMF headquarters in Washington, was proof of his ignorance as he would never have risked taking a call girl to his place of work.