Douai: Disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn sought on Wednesday to lift legal restrictions placed on him after he was charged in a vice case in the northern French city of Lille.

Strauss-Kahn arrived at the appeals court in Douai, near Lille, in a car with black-tinted windows and left around three hours later, an agency reported.

"We contested the legal restrictions, notably this very strange ban on speaking to the press about a matter that the media discusses a lot," one of Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, Henri
Leclerc, said after the hearing.

The appeals court's verdict is expected in a week's time, on May 30, Leclerc said.

Strauss-Kahn, two businessmen and a police chief were in March charged with "aggravated pimping in an organised gang" in Lille for allegedly organising a prostitution ring for orgies in France, the United States and elsewhere.

Legal restrictions slapped on Strauss-Kahn after he was charged include a ban on speaking to others who have been charged in the case, witnesses and media concerning the case.

Lawyer Leclerc said after his client was charged that the ban on talking to the media was "persecutory and pointless".

The pimping case in Lille centres on accusations that prostitutes were procured for sex parties attended by Strauss-Kahn and paid for by executives who corruptly charged the parties to company expenses.

Strauss-Kahn admits he attended a string of orgies in various cities, but insists he had no idea that many of the female guests were paid to attend, telling police in a reported interview that he may have been "naive".

A former head of the International Monetary Fund and one-time frontrunner for the French presidency, Strauss-Kahn suffered a stunning fall from grace after his arrest last year on accusations he sexually assaulted a New York hotel maid.

The charges were eventually dropped but Strauss-Kahn, 63, has since faced a series of criminal and civil actions in connection with alleged sex crimes.

The hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, has launched a civil suit against Strauss-Kahn in New York seeking unspecified damages, while he has in turn filed a USD 1 million countersuit for malicious prosecution and defamation.

Adding to Strauss-Kahn's legal woes, French prosecutors on Monday opened a preliminary investigation into accusations he took part in a gang rape in the US, according to testimony from a prostitute heard as part of the pimping probe.

(Agencies)

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