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France

'Lust’ is not a crime, say Strauss-Kahn lawyers

Text by Gaëlle LE ROUX

Latest update : 2012-03-28

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have said their client, placed under formal investigation Monday for alleged involvement in a prostitution ring, was being hounded for “the offence of lust” which is “not forbidden in the penal code”.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers told reporters on Tuesday that charges against him for his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring were “hollow, empty and overblown”.

There was “no serious evidence” against Strauss-Kahn, said Henri Leclerc, one of the three lawyers representing the disgraced former IMF boss. “If it was subjected to cross-examination the case would collapse immediately.”

Judges handling the case are investigating allegations that Strauss-Kahn, 62, “helped, assisted or protected prostitution” – a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. In order to establish this, they will seek to prove that Strauss-Kahn knew that participants at orgies attended in Paris and Washington were paid to be there.

Prostitution itself is not illegal

In France, prostitution on its own is not illegal unless it causes a public disturbance. However, procuring for sex is a punishable offence.

Central to the case against him is a series of SMS messages sent from Strauss-Kahn’s phone, in which he mentions forthcoming soirées and the women involved. A source close to the investigation told Reuters that these messages could be interpreted as complicity with illegal procurement of prostitutes.

"There's no serious evidence to suggest that Dominique Strauss-Kahn knew that these women were paid," said Leclerc. “And even if he knew, all that can be proved is that it was nothing other than normal relations with prostitutes. There is no help, assistance of protection of prostitution, just normal activity between a prostitute and her client. There is no crime.”

The lawyer maintained that “certainly, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has attended a certain number of parties with women, libertine parties with female friends and women who were friends of his friends."

'A crime of lust'

Leclerc added: “You can say what you like about that on the moral level, but that doesn't change the fact that it's not against the criminal law. He is being reproached for a kind of crime of lust. He's being attacked over his libertine behaviour.”

After months of court hearings, investigating judges placed Strauss-Kahn under formal investigation on Monday. This means – among other things - that he is no longer allowed to speak to the press.

Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers said they would appeal the court’s conditions, which include 100,000 euros bail, and would seek to have the investigation thrown out completely.

Asked what Strauss-Kahn – known as DSK in France – risks from the investigation in the long run, Leclerc replied: “They will drop the charges or they will acquit him. I have rarely been so certain of the outcome of a case."

Even if his lawyers succeed, Strauss Kahn’s woes will not be at an end. On Wednesday a civil case against him is due to open in New York brought by Nafissatou Diallo, the New York hotel maid who accused him of raping her in 2011.

Criminal charges were dropped after prosecutors decided Diallo was an unreliable witness, but it was too late to save the political career of the man who was once rated as the most popular potential candidate in the 2012 French presidential election.

Date created : 2012-03-27

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