• France edition
 
Ribéry, Benzema set for underage call girl trial
Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema are due to face trial on Monday on charges they paid for sex with an underage call girl. AFP Photo/ Franck Fife

Ribéry, Benzema set for underage call girl trial

Published: 20 Jan 2014 09:08 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Jan 2014 09:45 GMT+01:00

The long-awaited trial of French footballers Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema is set to finally go ahead on Monday. The pair are charged with having sex with underage prostitute Zahia Dehar and face up to three years in prison if convicted.

Bayern Munich winger Ribéry, 30, and Real Madrid striker Benzema, 26, are facing up to three years in prison and fines of up to €45,000 ($55,000) each on charges they paid for sex with Zahia Dehar while she was under 18.

Neither of the two men are expected to attend the start of the trial in Paris, Ribéry's lawyer Carlo Alberto Brusa said.

Ex-call girl Dehar, who rose to fame under the tutelage of fashion impresario Karl Lagerfeld after the charges emerged, is also not expected to attend.

Brusa said he was confident of an acquittal, after prosecutors recommended the charges be dropped for lack of evidence the men were aware she was a minor.

"We are going in confident and we are going to fight," he said. Dehar has also withdrawn as a civil plaintiff in the case.

"She is not asking for anything," said her lawyer, Daniel Vaconsin.

Zahia Dehar: From call girl to fashion princess

The two players are accused of having paid for sex with Dehar when she was 16, in Benzema's case, and 17, in Ribérys. Although the age of consent is 15 in France, paying for sex with anyone under 18 is a crime.

The trial is going ahead after France's highest court, the Cour de Cassation, ruled that only those aware that a prostitute was under-age can be found guilty of breaking the law.

Ribéry's brother-in-law is also charged with soliciting a minor for sex and five other accused face maximum prison terms of 10 years for aggravated pimping in the case.

Ribéry has admitted having sex with Dehar after she was flown to Munich in 2009 as a "present" for his 26th birthday, but insists he could not have known she was not 18 at the time.

Benzema, who is accused of paying for sex with Dehar in a Paris hotel when she was 16, denies that any encounter took place.

Dehar, now 21, became a celebrity following the scandal and has since established herself as a designer of luxury lingerie, thanks partly to being befriended and championed by Lagerfeld, who has described her as a quintessential French courtesan.

Dehar has testified that she had paid-for sex with both players but has said she lied to them about her age.

Dehar's alleged encounters with the two French internationals came to light after she was arrested in connection with a police investigation into the now defunct Zaman Cafe, a nightclub close to the Champs Elysées that attracted an eclectic mix of reality TV stars, criminals and dozens of prostitutes.

Brothers Elie and Georges Farhat, who ran the club, are among the accused.

News of the investigation into Ribéry and Benzema broke just before France's disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign, which featured unprecedented bickering within the squad that culminated in a brief strike by the players and ended in a first round exit.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
‘France needs to change its response to crime’
France prison's have hit a new record for overcrowding. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

‘France needs to change its response to crime’

This month France had more prisoners behind bars than ever before in its history, according to statistics unveiled on Thursday. An expert on the country's penal system told The Local that Sarkozy-era sentencing laws are largely to blame. READ () »

Burgundy 'will be ruined by wind farms'
Will Burgundy's worldwide reputation suffer because of windfarms? Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Burgundy 'will be ruined by wind farms'

The famous Burgundy region of France is synonymous with its vineyards but its image will soon be ruined, campaigners say, by the planned construction of new wind turbines. They say their chances of gaining UNESCO world heritage status are threatened. READ () »

VIDEO: Inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Here is a video look inside Paris's first-ever hotel just for cats. Photo: Lisa Winderberg/Flickr

VIDEO: Inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats

It was only a matter of time before the world’s most visited city extended its luxury lodging options to pets as well. Here's a look inside Paris’s first ever hotel just for cats, which naturally comes complete with a "gourmet" food menu and a games room. READ () »

French government's austerity denial 'a joke'
Some €50 billion cuts and freezes in benefits are not austerity, the French government says. That's a joke, say analysts. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

French government's austerity denial 'a joke'

After announcing a raft of spending cuts and benefits freezes this week the French government was at pains to stress that the country was not undergoing “austerity” as it faces a rebellion among its ranks. Analysts dismissed ministers' efforts as "a joke". READ () »

UK, US directors make cut for Cannes festival
British and American directors have been selected to show their films in Cannes. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

UK, US directors make cut for Cannes festival

Cannes film festival organizers unveiled on Thursday the A-listers and art house "auteurs" chosen to take part in this year's movie extravaganza on the French Riviera and it includes several well known Brits and Americans. READ () »

'Tarantula trafficker' snared in huge bug bust
French 'tarantula trafficker' caught with thousands of spiders. Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

'Tarantula trafficker' snared in huge bug bust

In one of France’s biggest bug busts ever, a man was caught with thousands of living and dead tarantulas as well as other exotic insects he sold on the black market, media reports said on Thursday. READ () »

Euro wide hunt for teen girl and 'suicidal' prof
Police across Europre are involved in the hunt for suicidal teacher and teen French girl

Euro wide hunt for teen girl and 'suicidal' prof

Police across Europe are trying to track down a 15-year-old French girl who disappeared a week ago with her guitar teacher, a much older family friend thought to be in a suicidal state. READ () »

Pupils 'taught abortion is murder' at French school
French pupils claims they were taught 'abortion is murder' at school. Photo: Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

Pupils 'taught abortion is murder' at French school

A private religious school in Paris is under investigation from national education officials after students alleged they’d been told in class that 'abortion is in akin to murder'. The private school has ties to the controversial fundamentalist group Opus Dei. READ () »

Australian 'graffiti tourists' arrested in Paris
File Photo of a typically graffiti covered Paris Metro. Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Australian 'graffiti tourists' arrested in Paris

Two Australian tourists who had left their mark on the City of Light with a few cans of spray paint, were picked up by French police this week. It appears the pair of graffiti vandals were on an InterRail trip and planned to “tag the whole of Europe” READ () »

French football
French cup final will be all-Breton affair
Guingamp players celebrate after their victory over Monaco on Wednesday which sets up an all Breton French cup final against Rennes. Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

French cup final will be all-Breton affair

The French cup final will be an all-Breton affair after underdogs Guingamp produced a major upset by knocking out big spenders Monaco in their semi final tie on Wednesday night. Guingamp will now play fellow Brittany side Rennes in May's final. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
Advertisement:
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se