Benzema next in prostitution probe


PARIS: Police would question French footballer Karim Benzema over prostitution involving a minor, an official said yesterday, making him the third star of France’s national team to be named in the scandal.

Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema

The judicial official, speaking on condition of anonymity under standard French practice, said a prostitute had told investigators she had sex with Real Madrid striker Benzema in 2008 when she was 16.

In France, a person under 18 is considered a minor. Sex with a prostitute under 18 carries a jail term of up to three years and a fine of 45,000 euros (US$60,000).

The woman said she also had relations with Benzema’s France teammate Franck Ribery in 2009, when she was 17 but told him she was over 18, the source said.

A judicial official on Monday named Ribery in the case but said the Bayern Munich winger claimed he did not know she was a minor.

The source said Ribery told police he had sexual relations with her and paid for her to visit him in Germany but denied paying her a direct sum for sex.

Sources close to the investigation said police had also questioned a third France international, Lyon winger Sydney Govou.

The judicial official said the same woman told police Govou had sex with her in March, when she was 18, and that he was surprised when she asked him to pay her several hundred euros afterwards.

Govou’s lawyer Thierry Braillard insisted Sunday that Govou “is not linked either closely or remotely to any kind of prostitution network”.

None of the players has so far been charged in the case, which centres on a suspected prostitution network at a Paris night club frequented by certain French internationals.

A judge must decide whether charges are brought.

“Possible criminal proceedings in a case like this one depend on the client’s knowledge or awareness that the relationship involves a minor,” an official said.

The manager of the club and three others including a waiter have been charged in the case and are in custody. — AFP