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Zahia Dehar: Calls for case to be dropped

The criminal charges against French football stars Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema were hanging by a thread on Wednesday. A surprise move may mean an abrupt end to the accusations the men had sex with a teenage prostitute.

Zahia Dehar: Calls for case to be dropped
Sex crime charges against French football stars Karim Benzema and Franck Ribéry may be dropped. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

A prosecutor in Paris on Wednesday called for the case against French football stars Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema, accused of having sex with an underage prostitute, to be dropped "pure and simple".

Jean-Julien Xavier-Rolai explained to the court in the French capital that it was impossible for the prosecution to prove that the two footballers knew that Zahia Dehar was under the age of 18 when they allegedly paid for sex with her.

Although the age of consent is 15 in France, paying for sex with anyone under 18 is a crime but Dehar, who later gained fame as a lingerie model and designer, had lied about her age.

However, the prosecutor called for five others accused of aggravated pimping in the case to be handed sentences ranging from one year suspended to three years in prison, half of which would be suspended.

News of the investigation into Bayern Munich winger Ribery, now 30, and Real Madrid striker Benzema, 26, broke just before France's disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign.

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.

The prosecutor himself admitted that "the very reality" of Benzema's encounter is "doubtful".

While the public prosecutor called for the case against Ribéry and Benzema to be dropped, along with that against Ribéry's brother-in-law, the judge ordered it to go ahead due to the fact that Zahia was under 18 at the time in question.

The charges against the duo carry possible prison sentences of three years plus a fine of €45,000 ($61,000). Neither Dehar, who rose to fame under the tutelage of fashion impresario Karl Lagerfeld after the charges emerged, Benzema or Ribéry were in attendance at the hearing, which opened on Monday.   

Speeches from the defence lawyers of each player were expected later on Wednesday, with a decision by the judge expected to be adjourned.

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SEX

France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had ‘marital duty’ to have sex with husband

A case has been brought against France at the European Court of Human Rights by a woman who lost a divorce case after judges ruled against her because she refused to have sex with her husband.

France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had 'marital duty' to have sex with husband
Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

The woman, who has not been named, has brought the case with the backing of two French feminist groups, arguing that the French court ruling contravened human rights legislation by “interference in private life” and “violation of physical integrity”.

It comes after a ruling in the Appeals Court in Versailles which pronounced a fault divorce in 2019 because of her refusal to have sex with her husband.

READ ALSO The divorce laws in France that foreigners need to be aware of

The court ruled that the facts of the case “established by the admission of the wife, constitute a serious and renewed violation of the duties and obligations of marriage making intolerable the maintenance of a shared life”.

Feminist groups Fondation des femmes (Women’s Foundation) and Collectif féministe contre le viol (Feminist Collective against Rape) have backed her appeal, deploring the fact that French justice “continues to impose the marital duty” and “thus denying the right of women to consent or not to sexual relations”.

“Marriage is not and should not be a sexual servitude,” the joint statement says, pointing out that in 47 percent of the 94,000 recorded rapes and attempted rapes per year, the aggressor is the spouse or ex-spouse of the victim.

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