PARIS - A French appeals court on Wednesday lifted a gagging order that prevented former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn from speaking to the media during a judicial investigation into his links with a suspected prostitution ring.
Strauss-Kahn is under investigation in France to establish whether he knew he was dealing with prostitutes and pimps when he attended sex parties in northern France, Paris and Washington in 2010 and 2011 allegedly organized by business acquaintances.
He denies knowing that the women at the parties were prostitutes or that there was any violence.
The ex-French finance minister visited a court in the northern city of Douai last week to seek a lifting of the gagging order and other restrictions that include a 100,000-euro bail bond and a ban on speaking to any plaintiffs in the case.
The court upheld the restriction on him contacting witnesses involved in the case.
Public prosecutors widened the inquiry last week to include a possible gang rape charge after a prostitute told them Strauss-Kahn and friends forced her to have sex in a group when she came to Washington to meet him in December 2010.
The woman has not filed a formal complaint.
Strauss-Kahn's career at the head of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund was cut short when he was arrested in New York in May 2011 on charges, since dropped, of attempting to rape a hotel maid.
After criminal charges were abandoned over concerns about her credibility, the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, pressed ahead with a civil case. A New York judge rejected Strauss-Kahn's claim of diplomatic immunity earlier this month, allowing the case to move forward.
Strauss-Kahn was placed under formal investigation in March in the separate French case, which had led to the arrest of eight people, including two Lille businessmen and a police commissioner.
If Strauss-Kahn were found guilty on charges of "aggravated organized pimping", he could face up to 20 years in prison.