LILLE, France — A French prosecutor asked a criminal court on Tuesday to acquit former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a pimping charge for his role in what investigating magistrates argued was an organized sex ring using prostitutes.
Five of the six plaintiffs in the trial have dropped their accusations, and the prosecutor's request highlighted the difficulty of a potential conviction.
Investigating magistrates - who originally sent the case against Strauss-Kahn to trial over the objections of the same prosecutor - argued that the 65-year-old was the instigator of parties involving prostitutes from 2008 to 2011 in Lille, Brussels, Paris and Washington.
The charge of pimping, or "procuring with aggravating circumstances", was justified, magistrates said, because Strauss-Kahn took a principal role in planning the parties, and knew that the women who attended them were prostitutes. During the three-week trial in Lille, Strauss-Kahn consistently maintained he had no idea the women at the sex parties were prostitutes, and that he had not organized the parties himself.
The trial is due to finish this week, with closing statements from the defense on Wednesday, but a verdict is not expected immediately. Strauss-Kahn was tipped to become French president before being 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.