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French court acquits ex-IMF chief Strauss-Kahn in prostitution ring trial

AFP

A court in northern France on Friday acquitted Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a vice trial that captured the attention of the French public, four years after the former IMF chief avoided prosecution in New York on accusations of sexual assault.

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Strauss-Kahn’s acquittal was largely expected on Friday after state prosecutor called for his acquittal during hearings in February, citing lack of proof.

The former Socialist party politician, who was once tipped to become France’s president, stood accused in his home country of instigating sex parties with prostitutes and risked a 10-year jail sentence.

More specifically, Strauss-Kahn was slapped with charges of “aggravated pimping”, in that he was aware that the women who attended orgies with him between 2009 and 2011 were prostitutes.

This would constitute organising the activities of sex workers, which is a crime in France, while frequenting prostitutes is not.

"He cannot be attributed the role of instigator," Judge Bernard Lemaire said when reading out a verdict in the presence of Strauss-Kahn and 13 other defendants.

“The judge ruled that there was absolutely no proof that Dominique Strauss Kahn even knew that the girls taking part of eight evenings that were in question were prostitutes,” said FRANCE 24’s correspondent Eve Irvine from outside the courtroom in the northern city of Lille, where the trial was held.

“They said there was no proof that he paid for their services,” added Irvine.

Political future?

Earlier, the judges also acquitted the former manager and director of the Carlton Hotel, where alleged prostitution and pimping sparked the investigation into a possible sex ring.
It also cleared Dominique Alderweireld, aka “Dodo the Pimp”, another defendant who was accused of shipping prostitutes from his Belgian brothels to Lille.

However, René Kojfer, a former public relations officer at the Carlton Hotel, was given a one year suspended jail sentence.

Since returning to Paris after his legal troubles abruptly-ended his work at the IMF in Washington in 2011, Strauss-Kahn has struggled to launch a venture in investment banking, and was left by his journalist wife Anne Sinclair.

It remained to be seen if the scandal-hit Frenchman could make a political comeback.

“Historically, France is quite ready to forgive their public figures over their private life, but this case may have gone a step too far,” said Irvine. “Throughout the three weeks of trials we heard a lot of sordid details.”

 

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