Dominique Strauss-Kahn 'pimping' case to proceed
French judges have decided to press ahead with the prosecution of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for pimping.
Lawyers for the former French presidential hopeful said they would appeal against the decision.
Mr Strauss-Kahn has admitted attending sex parties in northern France, but says he did not know that some of the women present were paid prostitutes.
Last week he reached a settlement with a hotel maid who said he had raped her.
Mr Strauss-Kahn had been accused of trying to rape Nafissatou Diallo in a hotel in New York in May 2011.
The civil case was settled for an undisclosed sum. A criminal investigation was dropped by US prosecutors last year.'Absurd accusations'
On Wednesday, a court in the northern French town of Douai rejected a request by Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers to drop the inquiry into pimping.
So, Dominique Strauss Kahn has to wait a little longer to see what the appeal judges of the supreme court will make of these allegations he is facing.
But then he is used to such setbacks.
Since his arrest in New York there has been one case after another - though none of the allegations he has faced, thus far, have stuck.
In New York, the allegations brought by chambermaid Nafissatou Diallo were deemed unreliable by the Manhattan district attorney.
The statute of limitations put paid to similar allegations here in France from the writer Tristan Banon.
And the allegation of gang rape brought by a Belgian prostitute earlier this year was dropped when she recanted her earlier statements.
Mr Strauss Kahn has admitted that while leading the IMF he attended sex parties in Lille, Paris and Washington. But did he organise them? Did he know the women were being paid? That is the crux of the case.
The decision removes the prospect of a quick conclusion to the last inquiry Mr Strauss-Kahn faces.
The case is the last major inquiry Mr Strauss-Kahn faces, and the ruling Wednesday's ruling removes any prospect of a quick conclusion, the BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris reports.
Mr Strauss-Kahn's defence lawyers accuse the investigating judges in the case of being biased.
"Dominque Strauss-Kahn's defence team is certain that he will ultimately be cleared of these absurd accusations of pimping," lawyer Henri Leclerc said in a statement.
The lawyer added that he planned to take the matter to the supreme court.'Criminalising lust'
The inquiry is known as the Carlton affair - after the name of the hotel in Lille in which the alleged orgies took place.
Consorting with prostitutes is not against the law in France, and Mr Strauss-Kahn has acknowledged that he was at some of the parties with the women.
But Mr Strauss-Kahn's legal team says he had no idea they were prostitutes, and that there is no evidence to support a formal charge of pimping.
"I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman," his lawyer has said in his defence.
His lawyers have also argued that the investigation should be annulled due to insufficient grounds.
Sex cases against Strauss-Kahn
- Criminal case on sexual assault charge in New York - dropped August 2011
- Criminal investigation of attempted rape claims in Paris - dropped October 2011
- Investigation on "gang rape" claims in Washington - dropped October 2012
- Civil case on sexual assault charge in New York - settled for undisclosed sum December 2012
Mr Strauss-Kahn, who is reportedly taking steps to reinvent himself as a highly paid consultant and conference speaker, has said the authorities are trying to "criminalise lust".
Other cases against him have already been dropped.
In October, French prosecutors ended an investigation into allegations of "gang rape" at a hotel in Washington after the woman who made the claim retracted her evidence.
Magistrates also dropped a sexual assault case brought by French author Tristane Banon on the grounds that the alleged 2003 incident had taken place too long ago.