France duo charged
Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema have been charged with having sex with an under-age prostitute.
Last Updated: 20/07/10 9:09pm
France internationals Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema have been charged with having sex with an under-age prostitute.
The charges are the first stage of a formal investigation that could lead to a trial and, if convicted, both players face up to three years in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros.
Bayern Munich winger Ribery arrived at the offices of the investigating magistrates at the Palace of Justice in Paris before he was freed without preconditions after the hearing.
Ribery's lawyer Sophie Bottai expressed her surprise at the charge.
"The only thing that's new since the last time he was questioned is that the World Cup is over and he played badly," she told reporters.
Ribery has never denied having paid for sex with the young woman at the centre of the scandal, 18-year-old Zahia Dehar, but his lawyer told reporters that he had had no idea in 2008 that she was under-age.
"There's not a single element of physical proof," Bottai added.
"This woman told them she was of age, was all made up, dressed up, appeared very switched on."
Ribery was a member of France's unhappy World Cup squad who exited the tournament in the first round following a miserable campaign.
Real Madrid's Benzema did not make the 23-man squad for the tournament in South Africa.