Lawyers for the four prostitutes who participated in sex parties organised for Dominique Strauss-Kahn have said they were giving up their claim of damages, saying it would be too hard to prove the pimping charge against the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief.

Over two weeks of court hearings in the northern French city of Lille, Strauss-Kahn, 65, has been accused of instigating parties he knew involved prostitutes between 2008-2011 in the French city of Lille as well as in Brussels, Paris and Washington.

The announcement on Monday was a surprise move on the first day of the final week of trial. Strauss-Kahn's defence insists he had no idea that the women at the parties were prostitutes.

On Tuesday, French prosecutors are expected to make their final arguments in the pimping trial as the case continues against Strauss-Kahn and 13 other defendants.

The four women remains civil parties in the criminal case, lawyer Gerald Laporte told the Reuters news agency.

Strauss-Kahn is charged with pimping, or "procuring with aggravating circumstances", because investigating magistrates say he took a principal role in planning the parties, and that he knew the women who attended them were prostitutes.

"The prostitutes have renounced the request of damages and interest against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, reckoning that all the elements making up the crime of aggravated procuring have not been met," Laporte, the women's lawyer, told Reuters.

Kahn denies claims

Strauss-Kahn, who was once considered a likely presidential candidate in France, has steadfastly denied knowing that any of the women involved in the sex parties were paid.

Former prostitutes have given evidence against him, including one woman known as Jade who told the court she was taken by Strauss-Kahn to visit the IMF headquarters in Washington in January 2010.

In contrast, ex-IMF chief argued in court last week that the visit proves he did not think she was a prostitute, and that he was too busy "saving the world from an unprecedented" financial crisis to risk taking a call-girl to his workplace.

However, Jade also said he subjected her to a level of sexual degradation that he would only expect from a prostitute.

Strauss-Kahn was also accused of sexual assault by a New York hotel chambermaid in 2011. US criminal charges were subsequently dropped, and the allegations that he participated in a French sex ring centred in the northern French city of Lille emerged later.

If convicted, Strauss-Kahn faces 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1.5m euros ($1.70m).

Source: Agencies