Police still holding Strauss-Kahn


Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn spent the night in a cell before French police questioned him for a second day today over a prostitution scandal.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, whose IMF job and prospects of becoming next French president ended in May after his arrest in New York on now dropped sex assault charges, has been plagued since by the prostitution investigation in the northern French city of Lille.

It centres on allegations that a prostitution ring organised by business acquaintances of Mr Strauss-Kahn supplied clients of Lille's luxury Carlton Hotel.

Police want to establish whether the now-jobless Mr Strauss-Kahn knew that women at parties he attended in Lille, Paris and Washington were prostitutes.

His lawyer has said he had no reason to think the women were prostitutes, noting it was not always easy to tell the difference between a "classy lady" and a prostitute when they were naked.

A source close to the case said Mr Strauss-Kahn would be released later today - but could not say whether he will be deemed free of suspicion, or placed under official judicial investigation over the affair.

Investigators can either drop all pursuit of Mr Strauss-Kahn or formally put him under investigation. He could be investigated on suspicion of complicity in a pimping operation or of having benefitted from misappropriated company funds if he knowingly attended sessions with prostitutes that company executives he knew paid for using expense accounts.

Mr Strauss-Kahn (62), made no comment as he arrived by car for questioning early yesterday morning at Lille police station. He resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund after he was accused of trying to rape a New York chambermaid.

US prosecutors dropped the criminal charges against him because of concerns about the credibility of the plaintiff.

On his return home in September, French public prosecutors shelved a separate sex assault complaint by a French writer on the grounds she had filed her grievance almost a decade after the event and too late under the statute of limitations.

Then the Lille affair surfaced, with relentless and at times salacious media leaks further soiling his reputation.

Denouncing what they called a media lynching, Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said they would sue several publications and demanded in October that he be summoned by Lille investigators so that he could explain himself.