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France

Police question Ribery and Benzema again in under-age sex probe

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-20

Police questioned French football stars Franck Ribery (left) and Karim Benzema (right) again on Tuesday in an ongoing probe into an underage prostitution ring at a Parisian nightclub on the Champs Elysees.

AP - France players Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema were detained for questioning by police officials as part of an investigation into an alleged prostitution ring on Tuesday.

A police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media told The Associated Press the players were being questioned by a special prostitution brigade in Paris at the request of an investigating magistrate.

The investigation became public knowledge this year after a young woman claimed that several football players on France's national team paid to have sex with her when she was a minor.

 Zahia Dehar said the players were not aware she was underage when they had sex with her. Prostitution is legal in France, but prostitutes must be over 18 years old, and clients are liable if they are not. The case is in the investigation stage, and no charges have been filed.

Real Madrid striker Benzema and Bayern Munich forward Ribery could face up to three years in prison and a 45,000 ($60,000) fine if found guilty of paying to have sex with a minor.

 ``It is an intentional offense, he would have to know her age, which wasn't the case,'' said Ribery's lawyer, Sophie Bottai. ``She would have to look minor, which wasn't the case, she would have to tell him she was minor, which wasn't the case, since all over the press she claimed that she was adult and that she was more then 20 years old.''
 
Dehar said she had been paid for sex since the age of 16 when she began partying in Paris. She claimed she met Benzema at a nightclub and he bought her services, and alleged that Lyon and France forward Sidney Govou had, too.

She told Paris Match magazine that Ribery flew her to a hotel in Germany for the night as a birthday present to himself.

Despite the scandal, Ribery was called up for the World Cup in South Africa, where France didn't progress past the first round following a string of below-par performances, while Benzema was left out, with then-coach Raymond Domenech saying it was because of his unimpressive season.

Dehar had written a letter to Domenech asking him to take no account of the case before announcing his squad for the World Cup.

Date created : 2010-07-20

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