The prosecutor in the trial of disgraced French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn has said that the one-time presidential hopeful should be acquitted of charges of "aggravated pimping" for lack of evidence.
In the latest twist in a two-week trial that has seen the former head of the International Monetary Fund's sexual proclivities laid bare, Lille prosecutor Frédéric Fèvre said the investigation had failed to establish the 65-year-old's guilt.
DSK, as he is also known, stands accused of pimping for his participation in regular orgies in France and abroad. But the man who was once tipped to be the next French president has maintained throughout the trial that he didn't know the women he says he "partied" with were prostitutes, thinking instead they were, according to DSK, "libertines," who shared his penchant for group sex.
Several of the plaintiffs dropped their accusations against Strauss-Kahn on Monday, explaining that, although they refute Strauss-Kahn's claim to ignorance, they have no cold hard evidence against the former IMF chief.
Among the accusers to drop charges are former prostitutes who testified during the trial, exposing the lurid details of organized gang bangs they described as "a slaughterhouse."
Prostitution is not illegal in France, nor is being a john. But pimping — any activity deemed to facilitate or encourage prostitution — is an offense punishable with a prison sentence. If DSK is found guilty of knowing the women present at the orgies were prostitutes, he could face up to 10 years in jail and a 1.5 million euro fine.
The case against DSK has stirred the debate about sexual morality in France, as former prostitutes have described the former politician's "brutal" mores, including claims of forced anal sex. Strauss-Khan has denied the claims, saying that, "If a woman says no, it means no."
The trial is just the latest in a long line of sex scandals for the one-time presidential hopeful. In May 2011, he was arrested in New York and accused of assaulting hotel housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo — who later dropped the charges. In September 2011, French police as part of an investigation interviewed him over an alleged assault on journalist Tristane Banon in 2003.
From the start of the trial, Strauss-Kahn has argued that his sex life — in particular, his unusual sexual practices — were being put on trial. Speaking on Tuesday, Fèvre told the court that, "We work with the penal code, not the moral code."
Fèvre has recommended a one-year jail sentence for Belgian brothel owner "Dodo the Pimp," who allegedly supplied girls to the parties, and suspended sentences and fines for others allegedly involved in the sex ring.
The trial is due to end this week, and closing statements form the defense are expected to be read on Wednesday.