• France's news in English
Footballers' trial over teen call girl adjourned
Karim Benzema (left) with French team mate Franck Ribery (right) and Zahia Dehar the former call girl at the centre of the scandal. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP / ZahiaOfficiel

Footballers' trial over teen call girl adjourned

Dan MacGuill · 18 Jun 2013, 16:06

Published: 18 Jun 2013 09:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Jun 2013 16:06 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The trial of Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema for having sex with an under age prostitute was adjourned shortly after opening on Tuesday pending resolution of a point of law which may result in the charges being dropped.

Lawyers for the two French football stars have challenged the legal basis for the charges against their clients and the judge agreed that they had raised a legitimate issue which will have to be resolved by another court before the trial can continue.

That issue will now be reviewed by a Court of Cassation which can either order the trial to continue or refer the issue to France's Constitutional Council for a ruling.

Each body has a maximum of three months to deliver a ruling and the trial will resume on January 20, 2014, with or without Benzema, Ribery and Ribery's brother-in-law, who is also charged with soliciting a minor for sex.

Five other accused face maximum prison terms of ten years for aggravated pimping.

The ‘Zahia Affair’, as the sex scandal is known in France, revolves around accusations that Ribery, now 30, and Benzema, now 25, paid to have sex with Dehar in 2009 and 2008, when she was between 16 and 17 years old.

Midfielder Ribery admits he had sex with Dehar while striker Benzema has denied any sexual relationship with her.

Ribery has, however, adamantly denied he knew she was a minor at the time or even that she was a prostitute.

In interviews, Dehar has claimed that in 2009, the avowed family man and devout Muslim convert flew her from Paris to Munich “as a birthday present to himself”.

In France, the age for consenting sex is 15. Although paying for sex and being paid for it are not illegal, both parties by law have to be over the age of 18.

The scandal first broke in 2010, when Dehar told police about her encounters with Ribery, who plays for European champions Bayern Munich in Germany, and Benzema, who plays for Real Madrid in Spain.

The judicial inquiry centres on alleged prostitution and pimping at the now infamous Zaman Café on the Champs Elysées in Paris. So far nine men have been charged with related offences, including Ribery’s brother-in-law.


For her part, Dehar has repeatedly told investigators she lied about her age when working as a call-girl at Zaman Café, and asked that all charges be dropped against both Ribery and Benzema.

In 2011, prosecutors in the case against the footballers, who played in France’s disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign despite calls for their suspension, also asked that the charges against them be dropped.

However, the presiding judge in Tuesday’s trial, André Dando, had insisted that the two have a case to answer.

Ribery and Benzema, neither of whom appeared in court on Tuesday, face a possible three-year prison sentence and fines of €45,000 if convicted.

Since the scandal hit the headlines in France more than three years ago, Dehar, who is known simply as ‘Zahia’ in France, has become a celebrity in her own right.

Story continues below…

Recently, she has attempted to shake off the “underage prostitute” tag and reinvent herself as a model, as well as launching her own line of lingerie, with the backing of fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld.

Most recently, it was announced she would be taking over L’Eclaireur in the trendy eighth arrondissement of Paris, this summer, and converting it into a shop selling both women’s lingerie and gourmet pastries.

In 2012 Dehar appeared in ‘Bionic’, a 3-minute movie by Hollywood photographer Greg Williams. “The story of a sex doll who exercises her own free will,” says the tagline.

(Warning: The video contains some explicit scenes)

Zahia Dehar in BIONIC - Short Film by Greg Williams (HD official) from Zahia Officiel on Vimeo.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available