France Puts Strauss-Khan Under Formal Investigation Over Alleged Role in Prostitute Ring

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn at a political rally he...

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been put under formal investigation by a French court over his alleged role in a prostitution ring.

Richard Malka, a lawyer for Strauss-Kahn, said he has been handed preliminary charges after investigating judges questioned him for several hours on Monday.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean authorities have reason to believe a crime was committed but allow more time for investigation.

The move is an esclatation of the case against the Socialist ex-finance minister but falls short of a formal charge.

Strauss-Kahn has denied the allegations against him, arguing that he was unaware women he met at parties organised by business associates in Lille, Paris and Washington were prostitutes.

Richard Malka said Strauss-Kahn denies wrongdoing and it is wrong to prosecute him for "simple libertine activity."

Prosecutors said that the 62-year-old one-time presidential favourite had been released on $135,000 (100,000 euros) bail following Monday's charges for an offence that could carry as many as 20 years in prison if convicted.

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn was placed under judicial control and was forbidden from contacting defendants, civil plaintiffs, witnesses and the press regarding the procedures," prosecutors said in a statement.

Strauss-Kahn's name came up as police were investigating a pimping operation that saw sex workers from brothels over the Belgian border being brought to France for orgies in high-class hotels in Lille and Paris.

Hiring sex workers is not illegal in France, but prosecutors are seeking proof that Strauss-Kahn was aware the parties were arranged by an organised pimping ring and paid for by other guests misusing company funds.

Several Lille-based businessmen and police officers have been accused of taking part in the ring. Read more at Aljazeera.com

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