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January 24, 2022

Benzema, Ribery ‘quizzed in under-age sex inquiry’

PARIS – French football internationals Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema have been questioned by police on Tuesday as part of an investigation into an alleged under-age prostitution ring, BBC News informs.

They were questioned at the request of an investigating magistrate looking into allegations that a Paris nightclub gave access to under-age girls working as prostitutes, judicial sources said.

Both players have denied wrong-doing. One of the women who is alleged to have met clients at the club while she was under age, Zahia Dehar, has already told investigators that she had paid sex with the two players.

Under French law, paid sex with someone under the age of 18 is regarded as sex with a minor – even if the general age of consent is 15 – and punishable by three years in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros (£38,000).

Ms Dehar, now 18, said she never told her age either to Mr Ribery, who plays for Bayern Munich, or Mr Benzema, a Real Madrid player. Mr Ribery has previously confirmed to police that he had sex with the woman, but insists he did not know she was a minor, the AFP news agency reports.

Mr Benzema has previously denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer. Earlier this year, police launched a raid on a Champs-Elysees nightclub called the Zaman Cafe and detained 18 girls on suspicion of prostitution.

Ms Dehar was not among them, although her name was already known to investigators, who had been carrying out phone taps on the cafe’s managers, says the BBC’s Hugh Schofield.

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