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Jan 30, 2014

Ribery, Benzema acquitted in Paris trial

Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema have both been acquitted of charges of soliciting an underage prostitute.

Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery: Key duo for France
Neither Ribery nor Benzema attended the trial in the French capital.

Ribery, 30, and Benzema, 26, faced up to three years in prison if found guilty of having sexual relations with Zahia Dehar, now 21, when she was under 18.

However, the judge at a court in Paris ruled there wasn't enough proof that the pair were aware of Dehar's age at the time.

Bayern Munich forward Ribery, who admitted having sex with Dehar in Munich in 2009, argued he had not known how old the Algerian-born woman was at the time, while Real Madrid striker Benzema denied Dehar's claims the pair had spent the night together in Paris in 2008. Dehar had always insisted she had lied about how old she was, and neither player had been aware of her true age.

Ribery's brother-in-law was also acquitted, but five other defendants were given sentences ranging from three months suspended to a year in prison for procurement.

Prostitution is legal in France, but prostitutes must be over 18. The case has been hanging over the players since July 2010, when a French judge issued preliminary charges against them.

Ribery arguably had the best season of his career in 2012-13, helping Bayern win the Bundesliga and Champions League. He finished third in the recent Ballon d'Or vote behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The former Galatasaray and Marseille attacker missed Wednesday's 2-1 win over Stuttgart through injury.

Benzema scored his 100th club goal for Madrid at the weekend in the 2-0 win over Granada.

Dehar, in her new capacity as fashion designer, attended the Versace haute couture fashion show in Paris on Sunday.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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