A court in northern France on Friday acquitted Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a vice trial that captured the attention of the French public, four years after the former IMF chief avoided prosecution in New York on accusations of sexual assault.

Strauss-Kahn’s acquittal was largely expected on Friday after state prosecutor called for his acquittal during hearings in February, citing lack of proof.

The former Socialist party politician, who was once tipped to become France’s president, stood accused in his home country of instigating sex parties with prostitutes.

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More specifically, Strauss-Kahn was slapped with charges of “aggravated pimping”, in that he was aware that the women who attended orgies with him between 2009 and 2011 were prostitutes.

This would constitute organising the activities of sex workers, which is a crime in France, while frequenting prostitutes is not.

“Strauss-Kahn’s defence was always that he was not aware prostitutes were involved in these parties, and that he never paid anyone a single cent,” said FRANCE 24’s correspondent Eve Irvine, who was in the courtroom.

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Earlier, the judges also acquitted the former manager and director of a luxury hotel in the northern French city of Lille, the Carlton Hotel, where alleged prostitution and pimping sparked the investigation into a possible sex ring.

It also cleared Dominique Alderweireld, aka “Dodo the Pimp”, another defendant who was accused of shipping prostitutes from his Belgian brothels to Lille.

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However, René Kojfer, a former public relations officer at the Carlton Hotel, was given a one year suspended jail sentence.

Since returning to Paris after his legal troubles abruptly-ended his work at the IMF in Washington in 2011, Strauss-Kahn has struggled to launch a venture in investment banking, and was left by his journalist wife Anne Sinclair.