Prosecutor asks Ribery and Benzema be cleared in sex trial

PARIS Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:16pm GMT

1 of 2. FIFA Men's World Player of the Year 2013 nominee Franck Ribery of France addresses a news conference ahead of the FIFA Ballon d'Or soccer awards ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich January 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

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PARIS (Reuters) - A prosecutor asked on Wednesday that French football internationals Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema be discharged of solicitation of an underage prostiture.

"It is impossible for the accusation to prove that Franck Ribery was aware" that Zahia Dehar, a prostitute-turned-fashion model, was under 18 -- the age of majority in France, prosecutor Jean-Julien Xavier-Rolai told the Correctional Court of Paris.

Xavier-Rolin added that Benzema should also be discharged.

Real Madrid striker Benzema and Bayern Munich forward Ribery, who were not attending the four-day trial, were being tried on charges of paying Dehar when she was aged 16 and 17.

Ribery has admitted paying her for sex but said he did not know how hold she was. Benzema has denied having any sexual relations with Dehar.

Paying for sex is not illegal in France but underage prostitution is.

Last December, the National Assembly passed a bill to fine prostitutes clients, but it still has to pass the Senate and be signed by president Francois Hollande before it becomes law.

The judges' decision is expected on Thursday, although it is highly likely that the case will be adjourned for further deliberation.

(Reporting by Marion Douet; Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Martyn Herman)

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