PARIS - Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose sexual proclivities cost him his job and a shot at the French presidency, goes on trial Monday for "pimping" over his alleged role in a prostitution ring.
The 65-year-old saw his high-flying career at the head of the International Monetary Fund and presidential prospects implode when a chambermaid at a New York hotel accused him of sexual assault in 2011.
While those criminal charges were dropped and the case settled in a civil suit, DSK - as he is known in France - faced further humiliation when sordid details emerged of his participation in orgies with prostitutes.
It is these sex parties which have once again landed him in the dock, charged with "aggravated pimping in an organised group" after his name came up as part of an investigation into a prostitution ring in northern France and Belgium.
Strauss-Kahn, who denies the charge, was ordered to stand trial in 2012 by investigating magistrates despite prosecutors calling for the charges to be dropped for lack of evidence.
The Carlton Affair
The case, known as the "Carlton Affair", began with a probe of a notorious pimp who owns a string of bordellos near the French border in Belgium, where prostitution and brothel ownership are legal.
It emerged that Dominique Alderweireld, nicknamed "Dodo la Saumure" - which loosely translates as Dodo the Mackerel, the French slang for pimp - was allegedly involved in procuring prostitutes for sex parties in various locations such as Lille's upmarket Carlton hotel.
In a complex and lurid web of details revealed in the probe, Dodo and managers of the Carlton and other hotels are accused of trafficking prostitutes and pimping them out to a network of local businessmen and police officials.
Strauss-Kahn's name cropped up when one of the prostitutes working for the "Carlton" ring told investigators she had been paid to participate in a sex party in a luxury Parisian hotel attended by the former head of the IMF, prosecution sources said.
Subsequent investigations revealed DSK had taken part in such parties in Belgium, Paris and even on business trips to Washington, according to the sources, who wished to remain anonymous.
'The king of the party'
But was DSK just a "libertine" with a voracious sexual appetite taking part in orgies organised by his entourage or was he aware the women lavishing their attention on him were prostitutes?
And did he, as prosecutors allege, play a role in organising their presence?
These are among the key points to be argued in court.
In France, while prostitution is legal, "proxenitisme", or procuring, is not.
So-called pimping has a much wider scope in the eyes of the law than its common definition of being an agent for prostitutes, and includes aiding and abetting prostitution in various ways.
DSK for example is accused of providing a "bachelor's pad" in Paris for sex parties as well as encouraging his entourage to organise the parties, as evidenced in text messages.
His defence is that he was merely a swinger and not aware the women taking part in the orgies were being paid.
Prosecutors say DSK was the "king of the party," and the evenings were organised according to his schedule and catered to fulfil his every whim.
Those attending the gatherings described "carnage with a heap of mattresses on the floor", and DSK the focus of several women at those times of "pure sexual consummation".
The court is likely to hear sordid details as the state seeks to portray Strauss-Kahn as a sexually-obsessed man who knew no limits.
The pimping charge against Strauss-Kahn is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (S$2.3 million).
He is one of 14 defendants in the trial which is expected to last three weeks. He is scheduled to take the stand himself from Feb 10.