Ex-IMF Boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Pimping Trial Begins

Image: Dominique Strauss-Kahn
(FILES) -- A file photo taken on October 9, 2011 shows former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn arriving at a polling station for the Socialist party's (PS) 2011 primary vote for the 2012 French presidential election in Sarcelles, northern suburb of Paris. Strauss-Kahn is to be quizzed as a suspect about involvement in an alleged illegal prostitution ring, a source familiar with the case said on February 18, 2012. He has been summoned for questioning on February 21 and can be held for up to 48 hours without being charged during a police probe into the organisation of sex parties in restaurants and swingers' clubs in Paris, Washington, Madrid, Vienna and Ghent, Belgium. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP - Getty Images, file

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PARIS — Dominique Strauss-Kahn goes on trial Monday for sex charges in France — the nation where he once was considered a top presidential contender.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, whose career went down in flames amid accusations of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York, is facing similarly shocking charges in France: aggravated pimping and involvement in a prostitution ring operating out of luxury hotels.

The French economist, known widely as DSK, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $1.7 million fine, as he and more than a dozen other French and Belgian businessmen and police officers go on trial in the northern French city of Lille.

Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his lawyer Henri Leclerc (left) ride in a car as they leave the Lille courthouse on Monday.DENIS CHARLET / AFP - Getty Images

The trial is scheduled to last three weeks, with Strauss-Kahn not expected to testify until Feb. 10.

Investigators have compiled hundreds of pages of testimony from prostitutes describing the orgies allegedly organized by the 65-year-old Strauss-Kahn and his co-defendants, centered on the expensive Carlton Hotel in Lille near the Belgian border. Strauss-Kahn says he took part in "libertine" activities but insists he never knew the women involved were prostitutes. It is not illegal to pay for sex in France, but it is against the law to solicit or to run a prostitution business.

The trial comes nearly four years after accusations that Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted Guinean-born Sofitel housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo. He was forced to resign from his $500,000-a-year position as head of the IMF, even though New York prosecutors dropped the case because they said Diallo had changed her account.


- The Associated Press