- football - France - Franck Ribéry
French prosecutors accept that Ribery did not know prostitute was a minor
French Prosecutors have called for the case involving football players Franck Ribery and Karim Benzama and an underage prostitute in 2010 to be dropped, saying the players were unaware Zahia Dehar was a minor at the time.
AFP - French prosecutors said Friday that football international Franck Ribery did not know that a prostitute he paid for sex was a minor and have called for the case against him to be dropped.
The Bayern Munich midfielder was charged in July 2010 with soliciting an underage prostitute after his encounters with Zahia Dehar, who was 16 when he had sex with her.
Fellow French international Karim Benzema was also under investigation for allegedly having had sex with Dehar, but did not know she a was a minor either, the prosecution said.
The two players must have unaware that Dehar was underage, as “she has said herself that she told them she was 18”, the prosecution said, adding that the case against them had therefore “collapsed”.
Ribery and Benzema were arrested and questioned in April 2010 after Dehar, an escort girl, said she had had a relationship with Ribery when she was under-age – and earlier with Benzema, she alleged.
But she said that neither man knew she was under-age.
Paying prostitutes for sex is not illegal in France unless they are under 18. Both players are under investigation and facing a possible jail term.
But 28-year-old Ribery’s lawyer Sophie Bottai told AFP earlier that a 42-page pre-trial report from prosecutors had concluded they could not prove that he had known Dehar’s age at the time of their encounters.
This supported her request that the case be thrown out, she said, expressing the hope the judge would now agree to drop the matter.
Dehar is a former reality show contestant who worked as a call girl in a Paris nightclub.
Since the case became public Dehar has become a minor celebrity. She gave an interview to the weekly Paris Match in which she admitted having been paid for sex by the players but said she had not told them her age.
She insisted that she not be called a prostitute, but an “escort girl” and posed scantily clad for pictures.
The two French internationals met Dehar at the Zaman Cafe in central Paris, which was closed after an investigation into underage prostitution began in 2009.