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PSG, Morocco football star Hakimi placed under formal investigation over rape allegations

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

Investigators investigating the rape allegations questioned Hakimi on Thursday, the prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said. An investigating judge placed the footballer under judicial supervision.

In the French legal system, a preliminary charge means that judges have good reason to suspect that a crime has been committed, but they allow time for further investigation before deciding whether to send the case to trial.

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

Colin said her client’s prosecution was “a necessary step for anyone accused of rape” that would allow Hakimi to defend himself by giving him access to the case. Colin also said that, according to her, some information gathered by the Judiciary Police indicated that Hakimi “was subjected to extortion in this case”.

The Morocco national team player was banned from contacting the alleged victim, a 24-year-old woman who said she was raped by Hakimi at her home on the outskirts of Paris on Saturday. Hakimi was allowed to leave French territory, prosecutors said.

according to The Parisian newspaper, which disclosed the allegations earlier this week,The woman then went to the police station on Sunday to accuse him of rape.

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

“My client has chosen to speak out to justice, and only justice, and only for justice,” she said in a statement to The Associated Press. “We will not tolerate any campaign to smear or destabilize ( against her).”

Spanish-born Hakimi, a defender, helped Morocco make World Cup history last year by becoming the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals. He was seen training with Paris Saint-Germain on Friday.

Prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation on Monday.

Hakimi returned to training with Paris Saint-Germain on Friday following a minor hamstring injury and could feature in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.

Paris Saint-Germain are scheduled to host Nantes in the French league on Saturday.

In a news conference on Friday, Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier said he would “not answer questions of a non-sporting nature related to Ashraf Hakimi.”

Galtier said he wanted Hakimi to train with the rest of the squad “in order to be able” to play in Wednesday’s last-16 second-leg tie against Bayern Munich.

“The players work hard and take it seriously,” Galtier said when asked how he felt while training under the circumstances.

Hakimi was on stage at the FIFA Awards in Paris on Monday. He was honored to be part of the players-voted men’s All-Star team and received a short but loud applause when he was introduced.

(Associated Press)

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