A day after five of six plaintiffs dropped accusations against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a French prosecutor on Tuesday called for Strauss-Kahn to be acquitted of a pimping charge for his role in what officials argued was an organized sex ring using prostitutes.
Prosecutor Frederic Fevre said the former International Monetary Fund chief should be acquitted “pure and simple” -- saying that Strauss-Kahn’s “notoriety shouldn't be in any way a presumption of guilt.”
“Our legal system must take pride in never convicting someone if there is any doubt,” Fevre added.
Strauss-Kahn, 65, a Socialist, was once tipped to become French president. That career came tumbling down after he was accused of sexual assault by a New York hotel chambermaid in 2011.
U.S. criminal charges were subsequently dropped, and the allegations that he participated in a French sex ring centered in the northern French city of Lille emerged later.
Argued against trial
Even before the trial, Fevre said he was not convinced there was a strong case against Strauss-Kahn and asked for the charges to be dropped. However, investigating magistrates argued that Strauss-Kahn was the instigator of parties involving prostitutes from 2008 to 2011 in Lille, Brussels, Paris and Washington.
Magistrates said the charge of pimping was justified because they said Strauss-Kahn took a principal role in planning the parties and knew that the women who attended them were prostitutes.
Strauss-Kahn denied those charges. If convicted of pimping, Strauss-Kahn risked up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1.5 million euros ($1.70 million).
The trial, which has lasted three weeks so far, is due to finish this week, with closing statements from the defense Wednesday. A verdict is not expected immediately.
Fevre said he worried arguments centered on moral judgments about sexual acts carried out by Strauss-Kahn, a self-confessed libertine who testified to having orgies while he was managing the world financial crisis, to being “rough” with his sexual “conquests,” and to needing sex with exceptional frequency.
But none of that is illegal.
Thirteen other defendants similarly are being judged for their role in the alleged sex ring that Strauss-Kahn said was simply a group of like-minded swingers.
Fevre said he was “troubled by the recurring mention of [Strauss-Kahn's] sexual practices,” which he said has not been the case for Strauss-Kahn's co-defendants.
Some material for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.