The trial of French footballers Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery for allegedly paying an underage prostitute for sex has been adjourned.
With the footballers’ lawyers having challenged the legality of the charges levelled against their clients, the judge in charge of the case has postponed the trial until January 2014 to address that issue in another court.
Benzema and Ribery are charged with paying the then under 18-year-old Zahia Dehar for sex in 2008 and 2009 but their lawyers believe the case is unconstitutional and hope it will be thrown out.
“Obviously for Karim Benzema, it is more waiting time that he has to suffer,” Benzema’s lawyer Sylvain Cormier said after the trial was adjourned on Tuesday.
“It is not good news.
“The text for the proceedings seems to be unconstitutional and there are serious doubts about its constitutionality.
“In itself, that is technically good news for the defence but for Karim Benzema it would have been better to deal with it immediately.”
The investigation into Benzema and Ribery’s alleged illegal activity has been ongoing since 2010, with the Real Madrid striker and Bayern Munich winger facing three years behind bars and fines if found guilty.
Ribery’s lawyer Carlo Alberto Brusa believes France’s laws against soliciting underage prostitution are not clear enough to be used against the 30-year-old winger.
Prostitution in France is legal if both parties are over 18, while the age of sexual consent is 15.
“It is a procedure that I hope will prove to be unconstitutional because of what it is all about, or it will end with a discharge,” Brusa said.