Achraf Hakimi, star defender for PSG and Morocco, charged with rape in France

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Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi has been charged with preliminary rape, French prosecutors said on Friday.

Prosecutors in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said Hakimi was being questioned on Thursday by investigators looking into the rape allegations. He was then charged by an investigating judge and placed under judicial control.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean there are grounds to suspect a crime has been committed, but allow magistrates more time to investigate before deciding whether to send the case to trial.

Hakimi’s lawyer, Fanny Colin, said the player “strongly denied the allegations made against him,” in a written message to The Associated Press.

Colin said his client’s indictment is a “mandatory step for anyone accused of rape” and will allow Hakimi to defend himself by giving him access to the case. Colin also assured that some elements collected by the judicial police prove, according to her, that Hakimi “in this case has been subjected to an attempted crime”.

The Morocco international has been banned from contacting the alleged victim, a 24-year-old woman who says she was raped by Hakimi at her home in a Paris suburb on Saturday. Hakimi has permission to leave French territory, prosecutors said.

According to the newspaper Le Parisien, which revealed the allegations earlier this week, the woman went to the police station on Sunday, where she has accused him of rape.

The woman’s lawyer, Rachel-Flore Pardo, said in a statement that the preliminary charges show that “there is reliable and consistent evidence.”

“My client decided to trust justice, and justice alone, and he will speak only to justice,” he said in a statement to the AP. “We will not tolerate any smear campaign or destabilization [against her].”

Spain’s Hakimi is a defender who helped Morocco make World Cup history last year by becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the tournament. He was seen training with PSG on Friday.

The prosecutor’s office opened its preliminary investigation on Monday.

Hakimi returned to training with PSG on Friday after a minor hamstring problem, and could be in the team’s squad to play Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.

PSG are scheduled to play Nantes at home in the French league on Saturday.

In a press conference on Friday, PSG coach Christophe Galtier said he would “not answer any questions of a non-sporting nature”. [relating to] Achraf Hakimi.”

Galtier said he hoped Hakimi could train with the rest of the squad “to be available” to play against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the round of 16 on Wednesday.

“The players were hardworking and serious,” Galtier said when asked what the mood was like in training given the occasion.

Hakimi appeared on stage at the FIFA Awards in Paris on Monday. He was honored as part of the player-voted Men’s All-Star Team and was greeted by brief and loud applause when he was introduced.

Associated Press report.

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