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RIBERY

Zahia: Charges dropped against Ribéry, Benzema

A French court has dropped charges against Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema, who were accused of knowingly having sex with an underage prostitute. The pair had faced lengthy prison sentences if convicted, so the decision is good news for French World Cup hopes.

Zahia: Charges dropped against Ribéry, Benzema
Charges against Benzema (left) and Ribéry (right) thatthey knowingly had sex with Zahia Dehar when she was underage, were thrown out of court.Photos:AFP

A Paris court on Thursday dropped the case against French footballers Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery, who had been accused of having sex with an underage prostitute.

The court also dropped the case against Ribery's brother-in-law, but handed down sentences ranging from three months suspended to one year plus an extra year suspended to five others accused of pimping.

The decision comes after a prosecutor in Paris had called for the case against French football stars Ribéry and Benzema 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 Ribéry, 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".

The charges against the duo carried possible prison sentences of three years plus a fine of €45,000 ($61,000). But Ribéry and Benzema are now free to concentrate on playing football and can look forward to the World Cup in Brazil in the summer.

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.  

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BENZEMA

French court rejects Benzema request to drop sextape case

A French court on Friday rejected a request from Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema to drop the investigation into alleged blackmail over a sextape featuring international teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a lawyer said.

French court rejects Benzema request to drop sextape case
Photo: AFP
“We are pretty astonished because the decision is to reject our requests for the investigation to be cancelled,” said Serge Money, who represents another suspect in the case, which cost Benzema a place in France's Euro 2016 squad on home soil this year.
 
The case, which cost Benzema a place in France's Euro 2016 squad on home soil, is now expected to go to trial next year.
   
The Versailles appeal court also asked the investigating magistrate to consider charging former Liverpool and Marseille striker Djibril Cisse.
   
Investigators suspect 28-year-old Benzema of acting as an intermediary between the presumed blackmailers — including one of his childhood friends — and Lyon midfielder Valbuena.
   
Benzema and three of the other suspects asked for the case against them to be dropped.
   
They say police used “dishonest” methods by posing as a friend of Valbuena's in a telephone conversation with one of the accused.
   
The prosecution meanwhile says Cisse helped to push along the deception by informing Valbuena that “rumours” were circulating about the existence of the sextape.
   
The 35-year-old was arrested as part of the investigation in 2015 but was released without charge.
   
Cisse said in a TV interview at the time that he had only been arrested “so the investigators could hear my side of the story. I never swindled anyone — Mathieu is a friend”.
   
Benzema has been usurped as France's star striker by Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, but national coach Didier Deschamps says he has not ruled out a return to the international fold for the Real forward.
 
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