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December 19, 2012

Former head of IMF loses appeal to end French prostitution investigation

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, lost a bid to halt a French investigation into his links to a prostitution ring.

Strauss-Kahn will fight Wednesday's appeals court ruling, which maintained the charges that he was involved in procurement of prostitutes, his lawyers said in an e-mailed statement.

The court "refused to condemn the numerous and grave violations of defendants' rights," Frederique Baulieu, Henri Leclerc and Richard Malka said in the statement. "He will ultimately be cleared of the absurd accusations of procurement -_ accusations which contradict all good legal sense."

Strauss-Kahn this month settled a civil lawsuit in the Bronx brought by a New York hotel maid who accused him of "violent and deplorable acts" during a May 2011 encounter at the Sofitel in Manhattan. He resigned his IMF post four days after being pulled off an Air France flight to face a criminal investigation into her claims he attempted to rape her. She filed the suit as prosecutors prepared to drop their case over concerns about her reliability.

French investigators in Lille are conducting a wide-ranging probe into claims of a prostitution ring operating there. Strauss-Kahn, 63, asked the appeals court in Douai to end the investigation, arguing the charges are too vague, that evidence has been kept from his attorneys, facts were distorted and judges created "a definition of procurement that isn't covered by the law," according to the statement.

"All that he is really being accused of is a libertine existence," Leclerc said in March after Strauss-Kahn was charged.

Paying for sex is legal in France; procuring prostitutes for someone else isn't. Under the French penal code, procurement in the context of a prostitution ring can be punished by as much as 20 years in jail and 3 million euros.

Turning to France's highest appeals court "is normal and what they should do; there are serious charges," said Christopher Mesnooh, a Paris lawyer not involved in the matter.

"They'd have to find some fault in the reasoning of the appeals court," which isn't public, to overturn the decision, he said. Following the settlement with the maid, "the momentum was in his favor; they were counting on a dismissal."

Prosecutors dropped a preliminary inquiry into claims by a prostitute questioned in the case that Strauss-Kahn was involved in a gang rape in Washington in 2010 when the woman contacted them to say she wouldn't file a criminal complaint.

A year earlier Strauss-Kahn persuaded Paris prosecutors to drop a preliminary inquiry into an attempted rape claim by a writer, Tristane Banon. The prosecution said they couldn't find grounds to pursue the attempted rape allegation and that the deadline had passed for her to claim sexual assault from the 2003 encounter with Strauss-Kahn.

 

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