Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi was given preliminary charges of rape, French prosecutors said on Friday.
The prosecutors’ office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said Hakimi was questioned on Thursday by investigators probing rape allegations. An investigating judge placed the football player under judicial supervision.
In the French legal system, preliminary charges mean judges have strong reason to suspect a crime was committed but are allowing time for further investigation before deciding whether to send a case to trial.
Hakimi’s lawyer, Fanny Colin, said the player “strongly denied accusations made against him,” in a written message to The Associated Press.
Colin said her client being indicted is an “obligatory step for any person being accused of rape” and will allow Hakimi to defend himself by giving him access to the case. Colin also said that some elements collected by the judicial police show, according to her, that Hakimi “in this case has been subjected to a racketeering attempt.”
The Morocco national team player has been prohibited from contacting the alleged victim, a 24-year-old woman who says she was raped by Hakimi on Saturday at his home in a Paris suburb. Hakimi is allowed to leave French territory, prosecutors said.
According to Le Parisien newspaper, which revealed the allegations earlier this week, the woman went to the police station on Sunday, where she accused him of rape.
The woman’s lawyer, Rachel-Flore Pardo, said in a statement that preliminary charges show “there is reliable and consistent evidence.”
“My client made the choice to confide in justice, and only in justice, and will speak only to justice,” she said in a statement to the AP. “We won’t tolerate any smear or destabilization campaign (against her).”
The Spanish-born Hakimi is a defender who helped Morocco make World Cup history last year by becoming the first African team to reach the tournament’s semifinals. He was seen training with PSG on Friday.
Prosecutors opened their preliminary investigation on Monday.
Hakimi returned to training with PSG on Friday after a minor hamstring issue, and he could be in the team’s squad to play Bayern Munich on Wednesday in the Champions League.
PSG is scheduled to play Nantes at home on Saturday in the French league.
At a news conference on Friday, PSG coach Christophe Galtier said he would “answer no questions of a non-sporting nature (relating to) Achraf Hakimi.”
Galtier said he hoped Hakimi could train with the rest of the team “to be available” to play against Bayern Munich on Wednesday in the second leg of the round of 16.
“The players were hard-working and serious,” Galtier said when asked what the mood was like at training given the case.
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, loud applause when introduced.