Tuesday, July 16, 2024

ARGENTINA | 11-07-2024 12:26

French rugby players taken to Mendoza to face rape allegation

Hugo Auradou, 20, and Oscar Jegou, 21, were being transferred Thursday from Interpol's Buenos Aires headquarters to the city of Mendoza, where they will be questioned over alleged rape.

Two French international rugby players on tour in Argentina were being transferred Thursday from Interpol's Buenos Aires headquarters to the city of Mendoza, where they will be questioned over alleged rape.

Hugo Auradou, 20, and Oscar Jegou, 21, were arrested Monday in Buenos Aires after an Argentine woman accused them of raping her multiple times and savagely beating her in a hotel room in Mendoza after a match.

They have denied the accusation, and say sexual relations with the woman were consensual. 

Javier García, spokesman for Mendoza's Security Ministry, told AFP the suspects were being taken by road to the city, 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) west of Buenos Aires, in a trip that can take between 12 and 15 hours.

After the initial questioning in Mendoza, and medical examinations, prosecutors will have 24 hours to decide whether to charge the players. The deadline can be extended once by another 24 hours.

If charged, a hearing will be held 10 days later to determine whether they will have to await trial in custody.

The sentence for sexual assault in Argentina ranges from six to 15 years, according to the penal code. However, this could go up to 20 years in the case of two aggressors.


Raped 'at least six times'

The accusations, which have left French rugby reeling and dominated news headlines in Argentina, came during a tour of South America by the French national squad.

The alleged attack took place Saturday night at the Diplomatic Hotel in Mendoza, where France's players and staff were staying after the match in which they beat Argentina.

The woman's lawyer, Natacha Romano, told AFP on Wednesday her client had suffered "fierce" violence at the hands of her assailants, with injuries to her face, back, breasts, legs and ribs as well as various bite and scratch marks.

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

"The violence was fierce," said Romano. "There is more than one crime to investigate."

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

She allegedly tried to escape several times.

Lawyer Rafael Cuneo Libarona, who represents the players, arrived in Mendoza on Wednesday and said "sexual relations" had been "consensual."

"There are witnesses who saw her leave (the hotel), there are cameras that saw her leave, apparently no injuries are seen in the footage," Libarona – who is the brother of Argentina's Justice Minister Mariano Cuneo Libarona – told journalists.

Romano told AFP that "the overwhelming proof that there was no consent is the victim's body" and the wounds it bears.

If the men are charged, the lawyer added, she would ask the court to remand them in pre-trial custody.

The charge, she added, should be "sexual assault with carnal access," the Argentine legal definition for rape, along with use of violence.

French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Florian Grill, who is in Argentina, told AFP the players have "a quite different version" of events to that of the woman, with "a lot of inconsistencies."

"We are not judges, we are not investigators, but we think that the Argentine justice system should look at the case very quickly," he said.



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