France

Ribéry, Benzema face underage prostitution trial in Paris

Zahia Dehar launches a lingerie boutique
Zahia Dehar launches a lingerie boutique AFP

Two French football stars go on trial in Paris on Monday for using the services of an underage prostitute. Lawyers for Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema say they are confident the case will be dropped.

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Ribéry and Benzema are accused of having sex with Zahia Dehar when she was 16 years old, in 2008 and 2009.

A police investigation identified them as possible clients of an organised prostitution ring at a Paris nightclub in 2010.

World Cup 2010 dossier

The charges caused an uproar ahead of France's disastrous performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

But in 2011 prosecuters asked for the case to be dismissed, ruling that the footballers did not know the girl's age at the time of the alleged intimacy.

The trial has nonetheless gone ahead because the chief investigator argues they were aware Dehar was underage.

France's age of consent is 15 but 18 when it comes to prostitution, which itself is not illegal.

Dahar's lawyer says the girl, now 21, will not be present at the trial because she is seeking nothing from the footballers.

Since the affair went public, she has launched a luxury lingerie line.

The trial is expected to last until Thursday.

Dehar, who came to France at the age of 10 after her parents divorced, has chosen to reveal her identity, although the courts are obliged not to reveal her family name.

In the wake of publicity surrounding the case she has launched a lingerie collection with the support of Karl Lagerfeld.

She now has a website promoting the collection and 35,000 followers on Twitter.

In an interview with Paris-Match in May she declared that the two footballers did not know her age and objected to being called a prostitute.

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