The trial of French football stars Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema over allegations that they solicited sex from a minor has been adjourned until 2014.
The case against Bayern Munich star Ribery and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema finally went to court on Tuesday, after a two-year investigation by state prosecutors into allegations that they paid an underage sex worker for sex in 2008 and 2009.
It was thought that an outcome in the case would be heard by the end of the week, with the players liable to go to jail if found guilty.
But Ribery’s lawyer successfully argued that the French law that forbids the soliciting of underage sex workers is too vague to be used against his client fairly.
The court found the lawyer’s argument serious enough to adjourn the case until 20 January 2014, giving legal authorities the chance to interrogate the lawyer’s challenge of the penal code, and even send it to the Supreme Court for arbitration if necessary.
It is not illegal to pay for sex in France, but soliciting sex from a minor is against the law.
The lawyers of Ribery and Benzema had hoped the charges against the players would be dropped. They both claim to have been told by the sex worker that she was over 18 years old.
Ribery’s lawyer has welcomed the postponement of the trial as further opportunity to clear his client’s name. But Benzema’s lawyer says the striker finds the continuing legal process “painful.”