Ribéry, Benzema to face trial over sex with underage prostitute
French footballers Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema are to face trial for soliciting an underage prostitute after a judge overruled prosecutors’ belief that they could not have known that Zahia Dehar was below the legal age when they paid for sex with her.
They could face up to three years in prison and fines of up to 45,000 euros.
Judge André Dando on Friday ignored a recommendation by Paris prosecutors to drop the case on the grounds that the two could not have known that Dehar, who was born in Algeria in 1992, was under 18.
Ribéry, who is 29, is accused of having paid sexual relations with her twice in a Munich hotel in 2009.
Benezema, 24, is accused of doing so in 2008 in a Paris hotel.
Ribéry has admitted having sex with her and paying for her to stay in Bavaria but denies knowing that she was under 18.
Benzema denies having sex with her at all, according to sources, who also say that Dando based his ruling on the testimony of another client who said that it was obvious that she was not yet 18 in 2009.
Ribéry’s lawyer, Sophie Bottai, declared the decision “as suprising as it is unjust”.
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.