Ribéry, Benzema acquitted in underage prostitute case
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Frank Ribéry and Karim Benzema, two of France’s biggest football stars, were acquitted by a Paris court Thursday on charges of having sex with an underage prostitute.
The French judge ruled that that there was not enough proof that Ribéry, a winger with Bayern Munich, and Benzema, a Real Madrid forward, were aware that the escort-girl Zahia Dehar was a minor at the time of the incidents.
Dehar, now 21, has garnered international fame following the affair, but decided not to file a civil lawsuit against the two football pros.
Ribéry, 30, has admitted to having sex with Dehar, but claimed he did not pay and that he did not know she was a prostitute or a minor.
Benzema, 26, has denied all the allegations.
Neither Ribéry nor Benzema, who play for France’s national team, were present at the trial. They faced up to three years in prison if found guilty.
Prostitution is legal in France, but prostitutes must be over 18. The case has been hanging over the players since July 2010, when a French judge issued preliminary charges against them.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters)