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France

Ruling on Strauss-Kahn ‘prostitution ring’ delayed

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2012-11-28

A court in northern France said on Wednesday it would delay its much-awaited ruling on whether to drop pimping charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in the latest sex-crime case involving the former IMF chief in his home country.

An appeals court in northern France on Wednesday postponed its ruling in a case in which Dominique Strauss-Kahn and others are suspected of arranging sex parties with prostitutes. The much-anticipated decision will be given on December 19, the court said.

Lawyers for the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund have requested that the sex-crimes inquiry – the final outstanding sex crimes probe against him in his home country –  be cancelled, claiming that normal investigation procedures were ignored.

Judges in the northern town of Douai are considering evidence in the case known in France as the “Carlton affair”. It centres around allegations that business leaders and police officials in the city of Lille operated a vice ring supplying prostitutes for sex parties, some of which took place at the Carlton Hotel in the northern city.

Strauss-Kahn’s co-accused include Jean-Christophe Lagarde, a high-level police commissioner, and Rene Kojfer, a former public relations officer at the Carlton.

The court, which did not immediately give a reason for the delayed ruling, can either reject or accept all or part of the request by Strauss-Kahn’s legal team.

Strauss-Kahn ‘unaware’ women were prostitutes

Lawyers representing Strauss-Kahn, 63, who was once considered a frontrunner for France’s presidency, have argued that the investigation into their client’s role in the Carlton affair has been impartial. They say investigative judges have withheld information from them and leaked information to the press.

Strauss-Kahn was held for questioning by police on February 21 and 22, on suspicions of “aggravated pimping in an organised gang”.

The former IMF chief has acknowledged that he participated in sex parties –which were also organised in Washington, New York and Paris and paid for by French businessmen– but claims he was unaware that the women were prostitutes.

He was introduced to the prostitutes by commissioner Lagarde and the former Carlton Hotel employee Kojfer.

End of legal woes?

The forthcoming decision is the latest chapter in Strauss-Kahn’s spectacular fall from grace, and could mark the end of his legal woes, at least in France.

Sexual assault charges last year in New York were quickly dropped because of doubts over the reliability of the alleged victim's testimony.

Nafissatou Diallo, a New York city hotel maid, is nevertheless pursuing a civil case against her alleged attacker. Strauss-Kahn has filed a counter suit against her for defamation.

After he resigned from the IMF and returned to France, Strauss-Kahn also faced rape accusations from 32-year-old author Tristane Banon.

French investigating magistrates questioned Strauss-Kahn and Banon and concluded that while there was some evidence of a sexual assault in 2002, the ability to prosecute the alleged attack had expired under the statute of limitations for rape, which is ten years in France.

In early October, French prosecutors also dropped an investigation into Strauss-Kahn's alleged participation in the gang rape of a Belgian call girl, after the woman said she had consented and was not pressing charges.

Date created : 2012-11-28

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