close
close

French rugby players taken to Argentine city where they are accused of rape

French rugby players taken to Argentine city where they are accused of rape

Buenos Aires (AFP) – French rugby players Oscar Jegou and Hugo Auradou are due to go on trial in Mendoza, Argentina, after being transferred from Interpol headquarters in Buenos Aires on Thursday. Both are accused of “violent rape” by an Argentine woman.

Issued on: Changed:

3 minutes

Two French rugby internationals on tour in Argentina were transferred from Interpol headquarters in Buenos Aires to the city of Mendoza on Thursday for questioning over alleged rape.

Hugo Auradou, 20, and Oscar Jegou, 21, were arrested in Buenos Aires on Monday after an Argentine woman accused them of repeatedly raping and brutally beating her in a hotel room in Mendoza after a game.

They deny the accusation and say that the sexual intercourse with the woman was consensual.

Javier Garcia, spokesman for Mendoza’s security ministry, told AFP that the suspects would be taken by land to the city, 1,000 kilometers west of Buenos Aires. The journey could take between 12 and 15 hours.

After the initial interview in Mendoza and the medical examinations, prosecutors have 24 hours to decide whether to press charges against the players. The deadline can be extended once for a further 24 hours.

If charges are brought, a hearing will be held ten days later to decide whether the defendant must await trial in custody.

In Argentina, the penalty for sexual harassment is between six and 15 years according to the penal code. However, in the case of two offenders, the penalty can be up to 20 years.

Raped “at least six times”

Natacha Romano, the lawyer of an Argentine woman who has accused two French rugby internationals of rape, speaks during an interview with AFP in Mendoza, Argentina, July 10, 2024
Natacha Romano, the lawyer of an Argentine woman who has accused two French rugby internationals of rape, speaks during an interview with AFP in Mendoza, Argentina, July 10, 2024 © LUIS ROBAYO / AFP

The allegations, which have rocked the French Rugby Federation and dominated headlines in Argentina, came during a South American tour by the French national team.

The alleged attack took place on Saturday evening at the Diplomatic Hotel in Mendoza, where the French players and staff were staying after the match in which they defeated Argentina.

The woman’s lawyer, Natacha Romano, told AFP on Wednesday that her client had been subjected to “brutal” violence by her tormentors and had suffered injuries to her face, back, chest, legs and ribs, as well as several bite and scratch marks.

She said the woman went with one of the men from a nightclub to a hotel room, where she was allegedly held against her will and abused for several hours.

“The violence was horrific,” Romano said. “There is more than one crime that needs to be investigated.”

The woman claims to have been raped “at least six times” by one of the men and once by the other, the lawyer said.

She allegedly made several attempts to escape.

Lawyer Rafael Cuneo Libarona, who represents the players, arrived in Mendoza on Wednesday and said the “sexual relations” were “consensual.”

“There are witnesses who saw them leave (the hotel), there are cameras that saw them leave and there do not appear to be any injuries in the footage,” Libarona, the brother of the country’s Justice Minister Mariano Cuneo Libarona, told reporters.

Romano told AFP that “the overwhelming evidence that there was no consent is the victim’s body” and the wounds he bears.

If charges are brought against the men, she will ask the court to remand them in custody, the lawyer added.

The charge must be “sexual assault with sexual intercourse,” according to the Argentine definition of rape, and also the use of violence.

Florian Grill, president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), who is currently in Argentina, told AFP that the players had “a completely different version” of events than the woman, who had “many inconsistencies”.

“We are not judges or investigators, but we believe that the Argentine judiciary should look into the case very quickly,” he said.

(AFP)