Lille: A former prostitute told a French court she was handpicked to take part in a sex party with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a day before the ex-IMF chief was to take the stand in an explosive pimping trial.
The alleged role of the disgraced 65-year-old economist in an vice ring only officially comes under the spotlight on Tuesday, but references to his involvement have seeped out as the court painstakingly weaves together the different threads of the case.
Strauss-Kahn, whose high-flying career and presidential prospects were torpedoed when a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault in 2011, finds himself back in the dock in the northern French city of Lille on charges of "aggravated pimping".
Fourteen people in total are facing the charge, in a trial involving interlocking cases of well-connected friends accused of introducing each other to prostitutes, and procuring prostitutes for sex parties.
Strauss-Kahn, the most high-profile protagonist, admits to attending orgies organised by his entourage, but denies knowing the women lavishing their attention on him were prostitutes.
The prosecution is seeking to prove the parties were organised at his behest, and that he asked his friends to bring prostitutes to the soirees held in Paris, Brussels and Washington.
Prostitution is legal in France but procuring -- the legal term for pimping which includes encouraging, benefiting from or organising prostitution -- is a crime.
Strauss-Kahn faces 10 years in prison and a fine of up to USD 1.7 million if convicted.
One of the former prostitutes Strauss-Kahn will face in court this week, Mounia, said Monday she was specifically chosen by one of the businessmen who threw the parties, David Roquet.
"The sexual relation that you were to have was with Dominique Strauss-Kahn?" asked Bernard Lemaire, the chief of the four judges overseeing the three-week jury-less trial.
"Yes," said Mounia. Roquet "told me he came to see if I would please this man."
Roquet, who is also charged with writing off the sex parties as company expenses, said he was hoping to benefit from his ties to a man then tipped to become France's next president.