Strauss-Kahn to be released from custody
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was set to be released Wednesday from a French police station after two days of questioning over his role in sex parties that illegally used prostitutes. He is to be issued with a summons to reappear a later date.
AFP - Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was to walk free from a French police station Wednesday after two days of questioning about a series of sex parties, a source close to the inquiry said.
But he was to be summoned to appear before investigating magistrates at a later date, either to be interviewed under caution as a witness or to face charges linked to prostitution and corruption, the source added.
At around 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) a squadron of police motorcyclists had gathered outside the police station in the northern city of Lille, apparently to escort Strauss-Kahn's car past crowds of journalists waiting for news of the case.
During his questioning, Strauss-Kahn told investigators that he did not suspect women he met at orgies were prostitutes as they were introduced to him by senior police officers, officials said.
A source close to the investigation said Strauss-Kahn made the claim during a second day of police interrogation on charges of "abetting aggravated pimping by an organised gang" and "misuse of company funds".
He was also to be quizzed by France's police internal affairs department, the IGPN, which is conducting a separate inquiry into a senior officer, Commissioner Jean-Christophe Lagarde, who has been charged with pimping.
The 62-year-old former Socialist minister, who until last year was the frontrunner to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France, was taken into custody on Tuesday.
Under French law, aggravated organised pimping carries a prison term of up to 20 years and profiting from embezzlement five years and a fine.
Investigating magistrates want to know whether he was aware that women who entertained him at parties in restaurants, hotels and swingers' clubs in Paris and Washington were paid prostitutes.
Strauss-Kahn told his questioners it never crossed his mind because "they were introduced to him by senior police officers," the source said.
They will also ask whether Strauss-Kahn knew the escorts were paid with funds allegedly fraudulently obtained from a public works company by his hosts.
Paying a prostitute is not illegal in France, but profiting from vice or embezzling company funds to pay for sex can lead to charges.
The former managing director of the International Monetary Fund admits he has an uninhibited sex life, but rejects any role in pimping or corruption and has indicated he will deny any criminal wrongdoing.
Lawyer Henri Leclerc has said his client may not have known he was with prostitutes as "in these parties, you're not necessarily dressed. I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a nude woman of quality."
Two businessmen, Fabrice Paszkowski, a medical equipment tycoon with ties to Strauss-Kahn's Socialist Party, and David Roquet, former director of a local subsidiary of building giant BTP Eiffage, have already been charged.
The pair are alleged to have links to a network of French and Belgian prostitutes centred on the Carlton Hotel in Lille, a well-known meeting place of the local business and political elite in a city run by the Socialist Party.
In all, eight people are facing trial in connection with the "Carlton affair", including three executives from the luxury hotel itself, a leading lawyer and the police chief, Lagarde.
The last of the sex parties is said to have taken place during a trip by a group from Lille to Washington between May 11 and 13 last year.
One day later, on May 14, Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York following allegations that he had subjected chambermaid Nafissatou Diallo to a brutal sexual assault in his hotel suite.
The case against him eventually collapsed when prosecutors began to doubt Diallo's credibility as a witness. Strauss-Kahn returned home to France, but only to face further investigation and scandal.
First, 32-year-old French writer Tristane Banon accused him of attempting to rape her in 2003. Prosecutors decided there was prima facie evidence of a sexual assault, but ruled that the statute of limitations had passed.
Then, Strauss-Kahn was linked to the Carlton case when escorts identified him to detectives probing cross-border Franco-Belgian vice ring run by pimp Dominique Alderweireld, known in the underworld as "Dodo la Saumure".