France: Topless protesters mob ex-IMF boss in pimp trial

ANKARA - A group of topless protesters have mobbed former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn as he was set to appear in court on charges of procuring women for sex parties. 

Several members of the feminist group Femen leapt onto the dark-windowed black Audi saloon in which Strauss-Kahn was being driven to court in Lille, northern France, on Tuesday, in protest at his alleged behavior towards women.

Police pulled off the women, who had slogans including "pimps, clients, guilty" scrawled in black across their bodies, before Strauss-Kahn continued to his first court appearance in the case.

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

- 'Unbridled activity'

Shortly after the hearing began just after 10.00 GMT, a letter was read out which Strauss-Kahn had sent to psychiatric experts tasked with analyzing his personality, in which he declared: "I have committed no crime, no offense."

He told the court he rejected engaging in "unbridled activity" -- referring to allegations of him attending parties with prostitutes organized by his circle of friends.

The former French politician insists he was unaware that the women who took part in the parties were prostitutes and says any activities were between consenting adults.

The 65-year-old, who was once viewed as a potential Socialist president for France, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of €1.5 million if he is convicted of aggravated pimping.

The trial, which opened last week, has previously heard how older men and business figures in Lille have exerted their power over impoverished women in the city and used them as sexual playthings.

Strauss-Kahn recently settled a civil case in the U.S. brought by hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo who had accused him of sexual assault in a case which marked the end of his political career in France.

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