Prosecutor asks for Strauss-Kahn acquittal in French sex trial

The prosecutor in the pimping trial of Dominique Strauss-Kahn says the former IMF boss should be acquitted.

LILLE, FRANCE (FEBRUARY 17, 2015) (PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS PICTURES) – A French prosecutor asked a criminal court on Tuesday (February 17) to acquit former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a pimping charge for his role in what investigating magistrates argued was an organized sex ring using prostitutes.

Strauss-Kahn was tipped to become French president before being accused of sexual assault by a New York hotel chambermaid in 2011. U.S. criminal charges were subsequently dropped, and the allegations that he participated in a French sex ring centred in the northern French city of Lille emerged later.

Investigating magistrates, who originally sent the case against Strauss-Kahn to trial over the objections of the same prosecutor, argued that the prominent Socialist was the instigator of parties involving prostitutes from 2008 to 2011 in Lille, Brussels, Paris and Washington.

Under French law, investigating magistrates have the right to overrule prosecutors’ initial recommendations to drop a case.

The charge of pimping, or “procuring with aggravating circumstances”, was justified, magistrates said, because Strauss-Kahn took a principal role in planning the parties, and knew that the women who attended them were prostitutes.

But during the three-week trial in Lille, characterized by sordid detail about Strauss-Kahn’s sexual behavior from former prostitutes, the star defendant consistently maintained he had no idea the women at the sex parties were prostitutes, and that he had not organized the parties himself.

On Monday, lawyers for the four prostitutes who participated in the parties said they were giving up their claim of damages from Strauss-Kahn, citing insufficient evidence to prove the pimping charge.

Leaving the court on Tuesday, lawyers for the civil parties said they were not surprised by the prosecutor’s request to acquit the former presidential favourite, consistent with his earlier position.

A lawyer representing anti-pimping association Nid, Emmanuel Daoud, said the media attention surrounding the debate had at least promoted discussion of the issue.

“The NID movement hadn’t targeted Mr. Strauss-Kahn, it was a pimping trial, it was a prostitution trial, but it was also the trial of our society regarding the normalisation of the body, the normalisation of the commercialisation (of it), and this trial is a real success for associations which fight against pimping because I sincerely believe our perspective has changed,” he said.

During Tuesday’s hearing the prosecution had denounced an over-obsession with Strauss-Kahn’s sexual practices, and said that he had to be treated as a man like any other, despite his high-profile.

But lawyer Gilles Maton, who represented prostitutes who were civil parties in the case, said he believed that legally, Strauss-Kahn had been treated entirely properly.

“The fate which he suffered, judicially speaking, was normal but obviously the media one was absolutely different because Mr Strauss-Kahn was a serious politician, with his position as the managing director of the IMF, and potentially the French presidency, it was the media treatment and media overexposure which gave him a particular fate, and there was a particular focus on his personality,” he said.

The prosecution’s demand for an acquittal highlighted the difficulty of a potential conviction of Strauss-Kahn, 65. The trial is due to finish this week, with closing statements from the defence on Wednesday, but a verdict is not expected immediately.

Thirteen other defendants similarly are being judged for their role in the alleged sex ring that Strauss-Kahn says was simply a group of like-minded swingers.

Strauss-Kahn, if convicted, risked a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1.5 million euros ($1.70 million).