Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is denying pimping charges and saying he took part in only a few sex parties.
Strauss-Kahn is in a northern French court, accused of helping procure sex workers for a prostitution ring based in a hotel in Lille, BBC News reported Wednesday.
He said prosecutors had greatly exaggerated the frequency of his “licentious evenings”, saying there had only been 12 in three years.
Strauss-Kahn said he did not know the women were prostitutes.
Using prostitutes is not illegal in France but supplying them or assisting in supplying them is a crime.
Prosecutors said Strauss-Kahn, 65, played a pivotal role in facilitating the orgies, describing him as the “party king”.
If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in jail and a 1.5 million euro (US$1.7 million) fine.
It is the latest sex-related allegation against Strauss-Kahn, who stepped down from the IMF after being accused of attempted rape by a hotel maid in New York in 2011.
The case also ended his political career.
Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist former finance minister, was at the time widely regarded as a top contender for the French presidential election the following year.
The charges were eventually dropped after he reached a settlement with the maid, Nafissatou Diallo.
Two other cases against him, concerning allegations of sexual assault and gang rape, have already been dropped.
As Strauss-Kahn arrived in court, three topless protesters from the Femen activist group with “pimps, clients, guilty” emblazoned on their back jumped on his car, the report said.
They were taken away by police.
Strauss-Kahn is expected to give evidence for three days. He has not attended the trial since it opened on Feb. 2 when his appearance attracted international media attention.
The day before he was due to testify, an ex-prostitute named Mounia described how she had been paid 900 euros by a businessman for what she had been told would be a “small party”.
She told the court that she had been specifically chosen for Strauss-Kahn.
Mounia’s evidence is expected to play an important part in the trial, as the prosecution tries to prove that he knew she and another woman, Jade, were prostitutes.
The businessman, David Roquet, 46, and one of the men who organised the parties, said on Monday that he had taken part for “professional” purposes.
It was important for his construction business and it enabled him to have contact with Strauss-Kahn, he told the court.
“He did it for fun. We had some lovely evenings,” he told French radio earlier, adding that five or six couples would be involved.
Among the 13 co-accused are luxury hotel managers, a lawyer, a former police commissioner and a brothel owner nicknamed “Dodo the Pimp”.
They face charges of “aggravated pimping”.
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