February 16, 2015 / 7:39 PM / 3 years ago

Prostitutes in Strauss-Kahn sex trial withdraw damages claim

LILLE, France (Reuters) - Lawyers for the four prostitutes who participated in sex parties organized for Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Monday they were giving up their claim of damages, saying it would be too hard to prove the pimping charge against the former IMF head.

Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves his hotel to attend the trial in the so-called Carlton Affair, in Lille, France, February 11, 2015, where 14 people including Strauss-Kahn stand accused of sex offences including the alleged procuring of prostitutes. Strauss-Kahn is charged with procuring with aggravating circumstances. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Strauss-Kahn, 65, is accused of instigating parties he knew involved prostitutes between 2008-2011 in the French city of Lille as well as in Brussels, Paris and Washington.

The announcement was a surprise move on the first day of the final week of trial and suggests that Strauss-Kahn’s defense - that he had no idea that the women at the parties were prostitutes - may have been effective.

The case will nevertheless continue against Strauss-Kahn and 13 other defendants, and the women will remain civil parties in the criminal case, lawyer Gerald Laporte told Reuters.

Strauss-Kahn is charged with pimping, or “procuring with aggravating circumstances”, because investigating magistrates say he took a principal role in planning the parties, and that he knew the women who attended them were prostitutes.

“The prostitutes have renounced the request of damages and interest against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, reckoning that all the elements making up the crime of aggravated procuring have not been met,” Laporte, the women’s lawyer, told Reuters.

Strauss-Kahn, Laporte said, “didn’t give up” during questioning by judges, repeatedly denying knowledge that the women were prostitutes.

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.

If convicted, Strauss-Kahn faces 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1.5 million euros ($1.70 million).

Reporting by Chine Labbe and Pierre Savary; Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Alison Williams

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