PARIS (Reuters) - Lawyers for disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Friday urged French magistrates to speak to him as soon as possible about a prostitution scandal in which his name has figured, saying he was being “lynched” in the media while they delayed.
Strauss-Kahn was once favorite to become France’s next president but saw his IMF career and electoral ambitions wrecked in May when he was arrested in New York and accused of attempting to rape a hotel maid.
The U.S. criminal charges were dropped and a sex assault complaint by a French writer was also dismissed, but his image has suffered serious damage.
According to media reports, his name has now surfaced in text messages unearthed in an investigation into a French prostitution ring, dubbed the Carlton Affair.
“From the moment his name appeared in the so-called Carlton Affair on October 9, Dominique Strauss-Kahn said he wanted to be heard as fast as possible by the magistrates leading the judicial inquiries,” his lawyer, Frederique Baulieu, said.
“A month has passed without him being heard and the media lynching has snowballed during that time,” she said in a statement.
The Carlton Affair started with the discovery earlier this year of a network that supplied prostitutes to clients of the luxury Carlton hotel in the northern city of Lille.
It quickly blew into a bigger affair with the arrest of a of eight people -- several Carlton managers, businessmen and a local police commissioner -- who are now under official inquiry on suspicion of organizing prostitution.
Among them is an executive from a public works company who told investigators he organized corporate hospitality events that included time with prostitutes and where Strauss-Kahn was present.
Further reports, including some centered on salacious SMS messages in the past two days, have intensified the pressure on Strauss-Kahn, prompting the decision to issue a public statement and against demand a hearing with investigators.
“I even wonder if all this is not politically motivated,” his other lawyer, Henri Leclerc, told France Info radio. “Enough is enough. If Mr Strauss-Kahn is being accused of something let it be said.”
Unlike organizing prostitution, availing of the services of a prostitute is not illegal in France. But the flow of revelations from the still-unfinished inquiry into the affair has done nothing for Strauss-Kahn’s image.
The now-bearded and jobless Strauss-Kahn, along with former TV star wife Anne Sinclair, remain the subject of regular media coverage. In recent weeks stories have said his most faithful political allies are deserting a man once considered one of the world’s most powerful.
Reporting By Brian Love; Editing by Angus MacSwan