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Fri Apr 25 09:04:41 SAST 2014

Bayern supports Ribery in underage sex trial

Sapa-dpa | 15 August, 2012 17:580 Comments
Bayern Muenchen v Werder Bremen - LIGA total! Cup 2012 Semi Final
Franck Ribery of Muenchen looks dejected after the LIGA total! Cup Semi final match between Bayern Muenchen and Werder Bremen at Imtech Arena on August 4, 2012 in Hamburg, Germany
Image by: Martin Rose / Bongarts/Getty Images

Bundesliga club Bayern Munich said Wednesday it would give its full support to star player Franck Ribery, after the French judiciary said Ribery faced trial over allegations of sleeping with an underage prostitute.

“He has 100-per-cent support of the club,” said Bayern spokesman Markus Hoerwick.

“For us the facts are key,” he added, saying that when it had established the facts, “we will talk with Franck Ribery.”  The 29-year-old was put under investigation in early 2010, along with another French football star, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

Both deny the allegations. The girl involved, Zahia Dehar, has said they did not know she was only 16 at the time.

In France, sex with an underage prostitute is punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 45,000 euros (55,000 dollars). But prosecutors must prove that the accused knew the prostitute’s real age.

An investigating magistrate on Tuesday referred the case to the criminal court, despite a 2011 recommendation by Paris prosecutors that the case against Ribery and Benzema be closed.

Tuesday’s decision was “as surprising as it was unfair” a lawyer for Ribery, Sophie Bottai, told RMC radio.

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