PARIS— A court in northern France has ruled that former International Monetary Fund Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn must stand trial on pimping charges.
The case centers around allegations that Strauss-Kahn was involved with business associates in running a prostitution ring in northern France and Belgium.
French police say high-class call girls were paid to attend sex parties in Washington, Paris and Brussels, and that the former IMF chief had sex with women from the prostitution ring in Paris and in Washington during 2010 and 2011.
Strauss-Kahn's defense team said he had no idea the women were prostitutes. One of his lawyers, Henri LeClerc, said he is certain Strauss-Kahn will be found "not guilty."
"The defense is certain he will be cleared of all these absurd accusations," said LeClerc, who called the charges "an affront to both common sense and legal analysis."
Another of his lawyers, Frederique Baulieu, said her client's legal rights have been violated. "This is not a victory for the law," she said, "because there were serious violations of the rights of the defense. And a crime was created from nothing. When an appeals court validates this, one can only worry about the state of the law."
Strauss-Kahn's lawyers argue that consorting with prostitutes is not illegal, and that investigators have no legal grounds for pursuing him on pimping charges.
But the public prosecutor said Strauss-Kahn not only knew the women were prostitutes, but he was involved in organizing the parties. A top police officer from the northern city of Lille also was indicted in the case.
Strauss-Kahn faces 20 years in jail if he is found guilty of complicity in pimping.
Last week, he reached a settlement with a hotel maid in the United States who said he had raped her. Strauss-Kahn had been accused of trying to rape Nafissatou Diallo in a New York City hotel in May 2011.
The civil case was settled for an undisclosed sum. A criminal investigation was dropped by U.S. prosecutors last year.