Ribery, Benzema put under investigation on sex charge (UPDATE)
France internationals Franck Ribery and Karime Benzema were placed under investigation Tuesday on suspicion of having had sex with an under-age prostitute, dpa reported.
The two strikers were taken before an investigating magistrate after being questioned for seven hours by by investigators from the Brigade for the Repression of Procuring. Then they were placed under judicial supervision and released.
Police were were acting on statements by a self-styled professional escort, Zahia D., who had told police that Ribery and Benzema had paid for sex with her when she was a minor.
She was 16 in 2008 when she allegedly had relations with Benzema, and 17 when she supposedly flew to Munich to spend a night with Ribery the following year.
However, Zahia D. has repeatedly said that the two players did not know that she was a minor at the time.
In French law, to be placed under investigation is a step preliminary to being charged with a crime, and sex with an under-age prostitute is punishable by up to three years in prison and a hefty fine.
However, prosecutors must prove that the accused knew that the individual was a minor.
Ribery's attorney, Sophie Bottai, told RTL radio, "It would only be a criminal case if (Ribery) had known the girl's age. But this was not the case."
Ribery had already been questioned in April about the affair, which disrupted France's preparation for the World Cup.
Les Bleus eventually were eliminated from the tournament in the group stage after a series of dramatic off-pitch incidents. Ribery was a member of the side, but Benzema, who plays for Real Madrid, was not selected by then-coach Raymond Domenech.