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Topless protesters converge on Strauss-Kahn trial

10 February 2015, 14:08

Lille - Topless protesters swarmed outside the French courthouse where Dominique Strauss-Kahn was to testify Tuesday in a trial involving orgies and an alleged prostitution ring.

Police tackled three protesters from the provocative group Femen as they shouted and climbed onto what appeared to be the car of the former head of the International Monetary Fund. He is accused of taking part in an international prostitution ring set up to provide him with prostitutes for orgies at luxury hotels in France and the U.S.

Strauss-Kahn's chances of becoming French president were ruined over an unrelated sex scandal in New York.

The economist, known widely as DSK, faces up to 10 years in prison and a 1.5 million-euro ($1.7 million) fine if convicted.

Strauss-Kahn is on trial with 13 other defendants accused of operating a prostitution ring out of luxury hotels in Paris, Washington D.C., Lille and Brussels.

The trial began Feb. 2. The court has so far heard testimony from some of Strauss-Kahn's fellow defendants, who include a Belgian brothel owner, local businessmen, a police officer and hotel staff accused of organizing sex parties for Strauss-Kahn's benefit.

Investigators have compiled hundreds of pages of testimony from prostitutes describing the orgies, centered on the Carlton Hotel in Lille, near the Belgian border. Strauss-Kahn admits taking part in "libertine" activities but insists he never knew the women involved were prostitutes.

It's not illegal to pay for sex in France, but it's against the law to solicit or to run a prostitution business.

Prostitutes questioned in the case said that between 2009 and 2011 — when the IMF chief was dealing with a global financial crisis — Strauss-Kahn was organizing orgies at luxury hotels in Paris, at a restaurant in the French capital and also in Washington.

Hundreds of reporters are covering the trial, making it one of the highest-profile cases in France in years.

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- AP

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