French court pushes back ruling on pimping charges against ex-IMF chief; he denies allegations

PARIS – A French court on Wednesday pushed back a ruling on whether to drop aggravated pimping charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief who has successfully fought accusations linked to his “libertine” lifestyle.

Three Appeals Court judges in the northern city of Douai set a new date of Dec. 19 to decide the demand by Strauss-Kahn to annul the charges linking him to a suspected prostitution ring run out of a luxury hotel in Lille.

Lawyers for Strauss-Kahn have claimed the investigating judges were biased.

The economist admits attending “libertine” gatherings but denies knowing that some women present were paid.

In August, a separate case against Strauss-Kahn centred on allegations of rape in a Washington D.C. hotel was dropped after prosecutors said the supposed victim, an escort girl, changed her account to say no rape was involved in the encounter when Strauss-Kahn headed the International Monetary Fund.

Criminal charges also were dropped by New York prosecutors in August 2011 in a case based on allegations of sexual assault by a hotel maid. But the high-profile case tarnished Strauss-Kahn’s reputation. He resigned from his job as chief of the IMF.

If the judges decide to dismiss the aggravated pimping charges in December, Strauss-Kahn’s legal load would be considerably eased — but not fully gone. He would become an “assisting witness” in the case, meaning that if investigators discovered new elements implicating him he could face preliminary charges once again.

The prosecutors office has argued against dropping the charges, saying there are “serious” indications that justify the preliminary charges brought against Strauss-Kahn.