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Jan 24, 2014

Ruling due in Ribery and Benzema case

A judge will rule on Thursday whether France internationals Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema knowingly had sex with an underage prostitute.

The hearing into the allegations against Ribery and Benzema began in Paris on Monday, but neither has been present in court.

They face charges -- along with a number of other defendants including the two managers of the Parisian club where they are alleged to have met Zahia Defar -- and could face three years in prison and fines of 45,000 euros if they are convicted.

After four days of testimony, the judge is now considering his verdict. During the hearing, the prosecutor asked for the case against the players to be dropped.

"Things are looking as good as they can. We're serene," Benzema's lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, told reporters outside the court.

"The fact the judge is considering the verdict so quickly is also a good thing. We're finally going to be able to turn the page."

Defar, who now runs a lingerie company, has always argued that she lied about her age. She is not expected to be present in court, having waived her right to make a case against the players.

In June, the trial was adjourned until this month for procedural reasons. The case had been brought to the attention of police by an anonymous tip-off in September 2009.

Ribery and Benzema allegedly met Defar in a Champs-Elysees nightclub before engaging in sexual relations with her when she was under 18.

Ribery has admitted flying Defar to the Bavarian city and having sex with her in April 2009, but maintains the 700 euros he paid covered transport, hotel and food costs. Last year, he failed to halt the publication of a book about his alleged relationship with her.

Benzema is alleged to have taken Defar back to his hotel and slept with her for 500 euros following the French Union of Professional Footballers' (UNFP) awards dinner in Paris in May 2008. He denies having any sexual relations with her.

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