Underage prostitute who allegedly slept with two of France's highest paid footballers 'no longer considers herself a victim'
- Zahia Dehar told court footballers did not know she was underage
Franck Ribery, 30, and Karim Benzema, 26, earn £17m a year between them
They're accused of having sex with Ms Dehar when she was 17 in 2009
- She's now one of most famous names in France since the scandal broke
- She's become a fashion icon, reality TV star, and muse of Karl Lagerfeld
- Maximum sentence for sleeping with underage prostitute in 3 years in jail
Both footballers deny the charges
Published: 15:46 BST, 20 January 2014 | Updated: 21:50 BST, 20 January 2014
A teenage call girl said to have illegally slept with two of the highest paid stars in European football ‘no longer considers herself a victim’, a criminal court heard today.
Zahia Dehar was just 16 when she allegedly started accepting cash from a range of famous players, including Frenchmen Franck Ribery, 30, and Karim Benzema, 26.
Both men – whose combined wages amount to some 17 million pounds a year - face up to three years in prison if they are found guilty of having sex with an underage prostitute.
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On trial: French internationals Franck Ribery, 30, and Karim Benzema, 26, deny knowingly paying for sex with Zahia Dehar when she was under 18
Famous face: Ms Dehar, now 20, has become one of the most famous names in France since the players were first arrested, building up a career as a fashion icon, reality TV star, and the muse of designer Karl Lagerfeld
But, as the opening of their Paris trial, Ribery’s defence lawyer said Dehar had withdrawn her status as a civil plaintiff, and conceded that neither men knew how old she was.
Referring to Dehar, barrister Carlo Alberto Brusa said she was ‘no longer the victim and no longer considers herself one, and she is out of the trial.’
He added that even ‘the prosecutor has recommended that the case be dismissed. In consequence, we have a trial without accusations.
Ms Dehar, now 20, has become one of the most famous names in France since the players were first arrested, building up a career as a reality TV star, and the muse of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.
High fashion: Ms Daher attending a Versace fashion show. Trading on her notoriety as a sex symbol, Zahia Dehar reinvented herself as a lingerie designer, showing her first collection on the Paris catwalks in January last year
Video Source YouTube
Neither Dehar, nor the footballers, were in court today, instead leaving the process to their lawyers.
Paying for sex is legal in France, but only if all parties involved are more than 18 years old. The age of consent in the country is 15.
The maximum sentence for sleeping with an underage prostitute is three years in prison, and a fine of around 40,000 pounds. Both footballers deny the charge.
Ms Dehar was 17 when she was paid in 2009 to fly from Paris to Munich, where Ribery plays for European Champions Bayern Munich, to sleep with him as a 26th 'birthday treat’.
Video Source YouTube
The 'Birthday Treat': Ms Dehar was 17 when she was paid in 2009 to fly from Paris to Munich, where Ribery plays for European Champions Bayern Munich, to sleep with him as a 26th 'birthday treat'
Hoodwinked? Carlo Alberto Brusa, Ribery's lawyer, said his client did not know how old Ms Dehar was at the time. Ribery is pictured holding the FIFA Club World Cup after winning it with German side Bayern Munich
He admits having sex with her, but said the cash he gave her – the equivalent of some 650 pounds – was solely for travel, food and a hotel.
Mr Dehar is known to have lied about her age to all the footballers she slept with, including Real Madrid forward Benzema, said Mr Brusa.
Benzema is alleged to have paid Ms Dehar just over 400 pounds to sleep with her after the French Union of Professional Footballers' awards in May 2008, when she was 16.
Sylvain Cormier, for Benzema, said his client denied this claim, adding: ‘From the outset, Karim Benzema has said that nothing happened.’
Daniel Vaconsin, Ms Dehar’s barrister, confirmed she had withdrawn as a civil plaintiff in the case, so will not be seeking damages. ‘She is not asking for anything,’ he said.
Highly paid: Franck Ribery, left, and Karim Benzema earn some £17million a year between them
Ribery's brother-in-law is also charged with soliciting a minor for sex, and five other accused face maximum prison terms of 10 years on charges relating to the case, including ‘aggravated pimping’.
Ms Dehar is said to have picked up celebrity sportsmen at the Zaman Cafe off the Champs Elysee in Paris.
The nightspot, which has now been shut down, was always full of pimps and prostitutes, according to prosecutors’ files.
Ribery and Benzema both helped France qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil this summer, and are hoping to stay out of jail so they can play in the contest.
Their trial, which is due to end on Thursday, continues.