Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and married Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery are to face trial on charges of paying Zahia Dehar, an underage prostitute at that time about 16-17 years old for sex on April 7, 2010. None of the footballers and Dehar has showed up in court on Tuesday and the trial has however for the time being stands adjourned for procedural reasons until 2014.
Both players are part of the France’s national squad and have been under investigation since 2010 over the allegations. If proven guilty, they risk up to three years imprisonment and fines of 45,000 euros for soliciting the services of an underage prostitute.
Ribery’s lawyer has however asked the Paris court on Tuesday’s hearing to seize the Constitutional Council from interpreting a clause in the penal code that bans soliciting underage prostitutes. He said that it was too vague to be used against his client while arguing Ribery’s case.
The scandal has lead to exposing of French footballers’ inclination towards flings and party culture. It was unfurled in public domain right ahead of the 2010 World Cup, further damaging the image of the French squad which was already struggling with internal bickering, public tantrums, defeats.
Algerian-born Zahia Dehar is now 21 years old and had since turned into designer Karl Lagerfeld’s muse and protégée leading to launching her own lingerie line and soft-porn website later.
State prosecutors have requested for dropping the case while arguing that the footballers did not knew Dehar was a minor.
Prosecutors representing the state under the French legal system can open an investigation and assign independent judges to lead it. As the investigation advances, prosecutors can change their mind and recommend dropping the case, but the judges can ignore this advice and continue with trial.