Strauss-Kahn’s ‘prostitution ring’ trial begins

February 4, 2015 10:11 am

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, once tipped to become the next president of
, went on trial yesterday accused of being at the centre of a vice
ring that hired prostitutes for orgies in which up to eight women had
sex with the disgraced politician in scenes of “carnage”.
Four
years after a New York sex scandal that shattered his political
ambitions and cost him his job as head of the International Monetary
Fund, 65-year-old Strauss-Kahn was back in the media glare as he arrived
in a black limousine at a court in the northern French city of Lille.
He
appeared on edge as he sat, arms folded, while Bernard Lemaire, the
presiding judge, read out the charges against him and 13 co-accused, a
colourful cast of characters including luxury hotel managers, a lawyer, a
former police commissioner, and a brothel owner nicknamed “Dodo the
Pimp”.
“You are accused of aiding and abetting the prostitution
of seven persons between March 29, 2008, and October 4, 2011, and of
hiring and encouraging the prostitution of these same persons,” the
judge said.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Photo / Getty Images

Procedural applications, such as a request by a lawyer for the
former prostitutes involved for hearings to take place behind closed
doors, dominated the first day of the trial.
Strauss-Kahn faces
up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 1.5 million ($2.4 million) if
convicted of organising the orgies in Paris, Washington and Lille that
have been dubbed “carnage on a pile of mattresses”.
One of the prostitutes questioned during the investigation described walking in on one of the orgies.
“I
was shocked. I didn’t want to get involved in this carnage,” Sandrine
Vandenschrik told police, according to judicial documents.
She
described a scene at the Murano hotel in Paris in March 2009, when she
entered a room to see Strauss-Kahn being “taken care of” by seven or
eight women.
Strauss-Kahn’s high-flying career as the head of the
IMF came crashing down in May 2011 when Nafissatou Diallo, a
chambermaid at a New York hotel, accused him of sexual assault.
After
his arrest and brief stay in Rikers Island prison, criminal charges
were dropped and the case settled in a civil suit for an undisclosed
sum, reported to be 950,000 ($1,980,000). But he was soon embroiled in
the prostitution allegations back home.
Strauss-Kahn, who denies all charges, is not expected to take the stand until next week.
DSK’s defence
During
the trial the judge must decide whether Dominique Strauss-Kahn was
merely a “libertine” who took part in orgies organised by his entourage
in Lille, as well as Paris and Washington, or whether he was aware the
women participating were paid prostitutes and also helped to organise
the orgies. Under French law, any action which furthers prostitution can
be considered as pimping. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have argued that he
had no idea who the women he was dealing with were because “they were
all naked at the time”. He thought that they were willing participants
at wife-swapping parties. But investigating magistrates contend that
their age and appearance “left little doubt as to their activities”, and
that Strauss-Kahn was not just the “king of the party” but a “linchpin”
of a prostitution ring. If this was a wife-swapping party, prostitute
Sandrine Vandenschrik asked, where were all the other partners?

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