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French footballers quizzed over 'underage sex'

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French footballers quizzed over 'underage sex'


French football stars Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema faced police questioning on Tuesday as part of an investigation into an underage sex ring.

Officers can detain them for 48 hours before deciding whether to refer them to a judge to face possible charges.

The pair allegedly paid an underage call girl for sex at an upmarket nightclub on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

The young woman at the centre of the scandal, Zahia Dehar, has already told police that she did not reveal her age to the two players.

Real Madrid striker Benzema denies any wrongdoing, claiming he has never been to the nightclub in question.

Ribery confesses to having sex with Dehar but he says he had no idea that she was a minor.

Ribery’s lawyer Sophie Bottai issued a fresh denial on behalf of the Bayern Munich forward.

“She would have had to have the appearance of someone who was underage and this was not the case,” Bottai told reporters outside the headquarters of the Paris vice squad.

“She should have told him that she was under age, which is not the case. In all the news reports she said she told him and all the others that she was more than 20 years old.”

In France, the age of consent is 15 but in prostitution cases a young person is considered a minor until the age of 18.

Adult prostitution is legal in France, but pimping and running organised networks are banned.

If convicted, the two players could face three years in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros if it is proved they knew Dehar was underage.

The AFP news agency reported that Dehar is now 18 years and four months old.

She gave a kiss-and-tell interview to the French gossip weekly Paris Match after the scandal erupted.

In the interview, she described selling sexual encounters to Ribery in 2009 and to Benzema in 2008 while she was underage.

The Bayern Munich star, who converted to Islam in 2002, is married to his childhood sweetheart with whom he has two young daughters.

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