Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Strauss Kahn Procurement Trial Gets Underway


PARIS – The former director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, returned to court on Monday where he is on trial along with 13 other individuals for aggravated procurement, a charge that could cost him 10 years in prison and a 1.5-million-euro fine.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie, the economist, accompanied by one of his three lawyers, Henri Leclerc, arrived at Lille’s Correctional Court, without making any statements.

The trial dates back to 2011, when anonymous accusations led Lille’s Judiciary Police to investigate alleged instances of prostitution in the northern French city’s Carlton and Des Tours hotels.

The case acquired a new dimension once Strauss-Kahn’s name started to appear in connection with it, just when he was immersed in a sexual abuse scandal involving a New York City hotel employee.

A police officer, a lawyer and multiple businessmen are also being charged in these proceedings.

They are accused of organizing at least 15 orgies with prostitutes in Belgium, Paris, Washington and New York, using the Carlton hotel as their base of operations between 2007 and 2011, while the former socialist minister, popularly known by his initials DSK, was still at the helm of the IMF.

The investigation singled out Strauss-Kahn as the prostitution ring’s pivotal member and principal beneficiary of these acts, often described by the women involved in them as “brutal.”

Four of the prostitutes have initiated a private prosecution, and their testimony during the hearings, according to media, could be more damaging to the politician’s reputation than any kind of judicial sentence that might eventually emerge.

In their testimony before the court, the women described DSK as a sex-hungry man with a marked tendency towards activities involving domination and sodomy, who made it clear he enjoyed “power relations.”

The IMF’s former director, aged 65 and known for his reputation as a libertine (and even for sexual harassment), has always claimed he was not aware that the women his friends would bring to the orgies were actually prostitutes.

Strauss-Kahn isn’t being treated in this trial as a simple client of prostitutes, but rather a procurer, since the French penal code imposes this designation on anyone who promotes or abets another person’s prostitution or benefits from it.

The debauchery of the bacchanals described by the women shows, according to the judges, that they weren’t mere libertines and that the former finance minister couldn’t have possibly be unaware of their professional status.

Proving that he was unaware of their condition as prostitutes has become a priority for DSK’s defense in this trial, which is scheduled to last for three weeks.

Strauss-Kahn will testify in three different sessions, starting next Tuesday.

On Monday, the court dismissed the public prosecutor’s petition to testify in a closed hearing and examined the defense’s demand for an annulment based on the consideration that the process was marred by political maneuvers against DSK.

The defense lawyer filing the petition, Olivier Bluche, bases his argument on the revelations by former commissioner Joël Specque, according to whom Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative government authorized administrative wiretapping against Strauss-Kahn before the case was officially opened on Feb. 2, 2011.

This theory would support the notion that a conspiracy took place with the aim of putting paid to DSK’s chances of acceding to the French presidency in the May 2012 elections.

Karl Vandamme, defense lawyer for another of the accused, declared that “procurement is a legal construction meant to trap him in their web.”


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