French court acquits Strauss-Kahn of pimping charges

French court acquits Strauss-Kahn of pimping charges

A French court today acquitted former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of pimping charges, drawing a line under the latest in a series of legal woes over his sexual escapades.

The 66-year-old economist merely nodded his head in acknowledgment of the verdict, the finale of a colourful trial which dragged intimate details of his sex life into the public eye.

His acquittal on the charge of "aggravated pimping" did not come as a surprise after the prosecutor called for him to be let off due to lack of evidence at the end of a three-week trial in February.

The trial was the latest in a long series of high-profile court cases in the past 15 years in which Strauss-Kahn has landed in the dock for corruption or sexual scandals that have fizzled out.

Strauss-Kahn saw his high-flying career at the head of the International Monetary Fund -- and his French presidential prospects -- implode when a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault in 2011.

Not long after those criminal charges were dropped and the case settled in a civil suit, his name cropped up in a probe into a prostitution ring in northern France, which provided sex workers for orgies he attended.

He was charged with aiding and abetting the prostitution of seven women -- a charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The courtroom in the northern city of Lille heard lurid details of champagne-fuelled orgies attended by Strauss-Kahn as his lawyers accused the court of putting his morals, and prostitution itself, on trial. Strauss-Kahn said that while he was a libertine who enjoyed group sex, he was unaware any of the women attending soirees in Paris, Brussels and Washington, had been paid to be there.

In their closing arguments, his lawyers said the case against him had "collapsed" into nothing more than an indictment of Strauss-Kahn's morals, and the prosecution appeared to agree.

Strauss-Kahn found himself in the dock alongside a colourful cast of 13 characters accused of taking part in a prostitution ring in northern France. Seven of them, including brothel owner Dominique Alderweireld, known as "Dodo the Pimp", were also acquitted.

The former manager of the upmarket Carlton hotel in Lille, where some of the accused threw sex parties for well-connected local businessmen and police officers attended by prostitutes, was given a one-year suspended sentence.

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