Strauss-Kahn's defence: what's wrong with lust?

Paris

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief and alleged "pimp", is being persecuted for being a famous and "lustful" man, his lawyers protested yesterday.

A French magistrate has formally accused Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, of "aggravated procurement" as part of an investigation into a hotel prostitution ring which began in Lille and spread to Paris, Brussels and Washington.

It is alleged that Mr Strauss-Kahn played a part in organising orgies in three countries attended by French businessmen, a senior police officer and prostitutes. Under French law, helping prostitutes to find or meet their clients amounts to "pimping", even if unpaid.

Investigators are said to have texts sent by Mr Strauss-Kahn in which he made arrangements for the parties and recommended one of the women to a friend.

Mr Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF 11 months ago, after he was accused of sexually assaulting a chambermaid in a New York hotel. The charges were later dropped but the first hearing in a civil action by his alleged victim, Nafissatou Diallo, takes place in New York today.

DSK does not deny taking part in orgies, or "soirées libertines" during 2009-11. The last occurred in Washington in the days immediately before he was arrested in New York last May.

Under questioning by a French investigative magistrate last month, Mr Strauss-Kahn said that he had no idea that the women at the parties were prostitutes. How could he imagine such a thing, he asked, when one of the organisers was a senior police detective?

His lawyers said yesterday that the case against him was "hollow, empty, non-existent". One said: "Colossal police and judicial means were deployed to crack and dissect his private life... with the only goal being to invent and then castigate what can be considered a crime of lust."

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