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French Prosecutor Asks To Acquit Strauss-Kahn On Pimping Charges

In what could be the end of a headline-grabbing trial, a prosecutor in France has asked that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, be acquitted of charges that he procured prostitutes for orgies.

The move comes after several prostitutes dropped their allegations against Strauss-Kahn, who had been charged with "aggravated pimping."

"Magistrates will now have to decide whether or not to follow the prosecutors' advice to clear Strauss-Kahn of all charges," France 24 reports.

From Reuters:

"The Lille prosecutor's request highlighted the difficulty of a potential conviction of Strauss-Kahn, 65. The trial is due to finish this week, with closing statements from the defense on Wednesday, but a verdict is not expected immediately.

"Investigating magistrates, who originally sent the case against Strauss-Kahn to trial over the objections of the same prosecutor, argued Strauss-Kahn was the instigator of parties involving prostitutes from 2008 to 2011 in Lille, Brussels, Paris and Washington."

Strauss-Kahn has admitted that he attended 12 "parties" — events that prosecutors say were orgies with prostitutes — but he has denied either being in charge or knowing the women were prostitutes.

The distinctions are crucial, because while prostitution is legal in France, procuring prostitutes is not. Strauss-Kahn was one of 14 people charged in the case, with prosecutors alleging a network of friends who procured sex workers for parties.

"I am in no way the organizer of these parties," he told a court in Lille, France, last week. "I did not have the time to organize any party."

The former IMF chief also sought to restrict his answers to the formal charge against him, attempting to resist prosecutors' efforts to have him describe his sexual preferences or what he acknowledges is a "libertine" lifestyle.

As we reported last week, Strauss-Kahn previously avoided charges over accusations that he raped a maid in New York City:

"Strauss-Kahn was widely considered a front-runner for the French presidency before the 2011 rape allegations in New York derailed his ambitions and forced his resignation as head of the IMF. He maintained that the sex with chambermaid Nafissatou Diallo was consensual. Criminal charges in that case were dropped, but he settled a civil case with his accuser."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.