Trial of Ribéry and Benzema for sex with underage prostitute postponed
Judge refers case to the court of cassation, which will take it up in January 2014
Franck Ribéry: could be sentenced to up to three years in prison and fined €45,000 if convicted
The trial of two French international footballers charged with having sex with an underage prostitute was postponed yesterday on constitutional grounds.
Carlo Alberto Brusa, a lawyer for the Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribéry and his friend Karim Benzema, who plays for Real Madrid, questioned the constitutionality of the law under which his clients were charged. The judge referred the case to the court of cassation, which will take it up in January 2014.
The story of Ribéry and Benzema’s relationship with Algerian-born Zahia Dehar was widely publicised just before the 2010 World Cup.
The Paris prostitution brigade, a branch of the police, questioned Dehar after raiding Zaman Cafe on the Champs-Élysées. Asked whether Abousoufiane Moustaid, who is charged with “aggravated procuring”, introduced her to anyone famous, Dehar named Ribéry and Benzema. Dehar appeared on the cover of Paris Match magazine, and recounted that Benzema “gave” her and another young prostitute to Ribéry for his birthday in 2009.
Dehar began working as a prostitute at the Cannes festival in 2008, when she was 16 years old, the same year she says she met Benzema. Dehar says she lied to Ribéry and Benzema about her age. Brusa claims his clients believed she had reached the legal age of consent because, “When a woman travels around Europe by plane, can you imagine thinking for one second that she’s a minor?”
“I don’t like footballers, because they behave badly and they don’t pay well,” Dehar told police. Prostitutes at Zaman cafe were paid up to €2,000 per client. Dehar said Benzema – who denies having had sex with her – paid her “only €500” while Ribéry gave her €1,000 after the birthday encounter in Munich, but subsequently refused to pay her for a night in Paris.
Neither Dehar nor the footballers appeared in court yesterday. Ribéry said he would take advantage of a law that allows defendants to be represented by their lawyer, because there was “no victim” and “no accusation” since Dehar dropped her suit as a civil plaintiff. If convicted, the footballers could be sentenced to up to three years in prison and fined €45,000.
Dehar (21) now designs lingerie with the support of the couturier Karl Lagerfeld.