Strauss-Kahn linked to prostitution ring

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose political career was destroyed this year by two attempted rape claims, has hit out after reports linked his name to an illegal prostitution ring.

The 62-year-old Socialist politician told AFP he was keen to face judicial questioning over the case, an investigation into an alleged call girl network in the northern city of Lille, in order to quickly clear his name.

Reacting after press reports said he might face questioning, Strauss-Kahn said he wanted to he heard “as quickly as possible” to “end insinuations and extrapolations that are dangerous and once again malicious”.

Investigators in Lille believe they have uncovered a prostitution ring that brought women over the frontier from Belgium to have sex with wealthy clients in hotels in the border city, including the four-star Carlton.

Five men – including the director and the public relations chief of the Carlton – have been arrested in France and charged with pimping, while Belgian police are also investigating on their side of the frontier.

Three Lille hotels have been shut down by authorities for three months each while the case is investigated.

The case has caused a scandal in Lille, where respected local figures and even senior police officers are reportedly involved, but Sunday’s French press reports were the first sign that it might have broader implications.

The weekly Journal du Dimanche cited sources close to the investigation saying that Strauss-Kahn, now living in Paris after being forced to resign from the IMF and seeing his political career collapse, could be questioned.

According to the report, investigators suspect that women may have been dispatched to the United States for him and that he might have taken part in sex parties organised in Paris by one of the Lille suspects.

The new scandal erupts just after Strauss-Kahn won some breathing space in his legal battles, when French state prosecutors investigating allegations that he tried to rape a young writer decided not to charge him.

The Paris prosecutor’s office decided that, while Strauss-Kahn admitted to grabbing and kissing his accuser, “which could be regarded as sexual assault”, they did not have enough evidence to charge him with attempted rape.

Under French law, sexual assault is a lesser crime than attempted rape and cannot be prosecuted more than three years after the event.

Strauss-Kahn still faces a civil case in New York from a hotel chamber maid who alleges he sexually assaulted and tried to rape her on May 14 this year.

The French politician was charged, but New York prosecutors dropped the case after doubts emerged over the maid’s testimony. Strauss-Kahn has admitted having a sexual encounter with the maid, but denies violence.

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