Ex-prostitutes drop civil action against DSK in pimping trial

Ex-prostitutes drop civil action against DSK in pimping trial

Lille (France) (AFP) - Two ex-prostitutes on Monday dropped a civil suit against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn who is standing trial for pimping in France, their lawyer said.

The former prostitutes -- Jade and Mounia -- had delivered dramatic testimony during the trial of how they felt powerless to say no to Strauss-Kahn sodomising them during sex parties.

But their lawyer said they felt unable to prove that the former political heavyweight knew the women were prostitutes and they were dropping their civil case against him.

"We are convinced that Mr Strauss-Kahn had full and complete knowledge of the prostitutes' status, but just holding that belief certainly does not prove that a law was broken," said lawyer Gilles Maton.

The Action Team Against Pimping, an NGO, also withdrew their civil case.

Strauss-Kahn showed little reaction as the statements were made in the courtroom in Lille, northern France.

Their civil cases were running in parallel to the criminal trial in which Strauss-Kahn and 13 others are charged with pimping and could face up to 10 years in prison.

The trial has entered its third and final week, with lawyers and prosecutors set to sum up their cases after a fortnight of often lurid accounts about the orgies.

One of the ex-prostitutes, Jade, said the forced sodomy carried out by Strauss-Kahn was proof he knew he was with a prostitute.

The former head of the IMF has claimed he lives the life of a "libertine".

"I experienced a penetration without my permission. If I was a libertine, I would at least have been asked if I wanted to do that," she told the court last week.

But Strauss-Kahn argued he was not on trial for "deviant sexual practices" and was "horrified at the practice of using prostitutes."

At the hearing on Monday, a lawyer for another anti-prostitution NGO, the Mouvement de Nid, welcomed the fact that the trial had boosted their cause.

"It is not only the trial of these 14 people, not only of pimping and prostitution -- it's a trial of our society," said Emmanuel Daoud.

He pointed to the fact that parliament will take a fresh look at prostitution laws in France at the end of March as a positive result of the trial.

Prostitution is legal in France, although pimping or even encouraging prostitution is illegal.

Maton, the lawyer for the former prostitutes, said his purpose in bringing the case to trial was to give a voice to people who are rarely heard.

"Our objective in coming here was to have their voices taken into consideration -- as real people, not as 'material' or 'dossiers'," he said, referring to codenames used in intercepted messages by some of the defendants when organising the sex parties.