Updates on Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema Trial for Alleged Underage Prostitution

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

FILE - In this Nov.19, 2013 file photo, From left, Franck Ribery, left, and Karim Benzema pay attention to the French national anthem during a World Cup qualifying playoff second-leg soccer match France against Ukraine at Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis, outside Paris.  A trial involving Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema is back on track Monday Jan.20, 2014, with the two facing up to three years in prison on charges of soliciting an underage prostitute. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

Updates from Thursday, Jan. 30

Rob Harris of The Associated Press reports the decision made from Ribery and Benzema's hearing:

Updates from Thursday, Jan. 23

Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema should be discharged of allegations of soliciting an underage prostitute, a prosecutor told the court on Wednesday.

Reported by Reuters, via Eurosport, prosecutor Jean-Julien Xavier-Rolai said: "It is impossible for the accusation to prove that Franck Ribery was aware."

His comment comes in relation to the charge that Ribery knew of Zahia Dehar's age—under 18—at the time of their relationship.

A decision is expected on Thursday.


Updates from Tuesday, Jan. 21

Karim Benzema's lawyer insists the Real Madrid star will prove his innocence over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with an underage prostitute.

Compatriot Franck Ribery has confessed to having sex with Zahia Dehar, but argues he did not know her age. Per Ian Holyman of ESPN FC, Benzema is adamant he never had any type of relationship with the girl.

Lawyer Sylvain Cormier is quoted saying:

From the very start, Karim Benzema has explained that nothing happened on May 11, 2008.

We're going to try and show that's the truth, perhaps even prove it. I'm hoping the case will be dropped. [It should be] dropped pure and simple, not simply on the basis of benefit of the doubt or an allegation. There are inconsistencies and undoubtedly lies in the case against him.


---Original text---

The court case that sees French football players Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema combat claims they had sexual relationships with an underage prostitute has begun in France.

As reported by Ian Holyman of ESPN FC, both players are alleged to have met Zahia Dehar—who was under 18 at the time—in a Champs-Elysees nightclub.

Ribery has admitted to having sex with Dehar after flying her out to Munich in 2009, but claims the €700 he paid was for her travel, accommodation and food, per Holyman's report.

Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Benzema is alleged to have paid Dehar 500 for sex after the French Union of Professional Footballers' awards in May 2008, when she was 16.

Holyman reports that neither player is expected to make an appearance at the Paris-based hearing—even though they face up to three years in jail and a 45,000 fine if convicted.

Carlo Alberto Brusa, Ribery's lawyer, denied this was down to a lack of respect, per Le Parisian and via Holyman's report:

"It's not a lack of respect for the justice system," he said. "We're in a case where we are going to ask for it to be dropped and there is no complainant."

Thibault Camus/Associated Press

Daniel Vaconsin, Dehar's lawyer, has also confirmed she has withdrawn from attending, per BBC News. "She is not asking for anything," he said.

Dehar shot to celebrity status after the case and is now a designer of luxury lingerie, promoted by Lagerfeld. Both players deny claims of paying her for sex.

While the age of consent is 15 in France, prostitution under 18 years old is a crime. Ribery's brother-in-law and five others also face separate charges in a case that has the potential to significantly impact two of the world's most recognizable footballers.

Ribery was a finalist for last week's Ballon d'Or award, given to the world's best football player in a given year. He plays for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga and also on the French national team. Benzema plays in the Spanish La Liga for Real Madrid as well as for France.