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What next for French players held in Argentine sex assault probe?

NEWS: The fate of French national rugby players Hugo Aradou and Oscar Jegou, accused of sexually assaulting a woman while on tour in Argentina, is now in the hands of the South American country’s justice system.

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The duo, who say there was consensual sex with their accuser, were detained in Buenos Aires, from where they were supposed to have left for a match in Uruguay, on Monday.

This is the legal road ahead:

Transfer

The players are to be transferred to Mendoza, where the alleged crime occurred between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning for questioning, according to their lawyer Rafael Cuneo Libarona.

They will also be subjected to forensic examination.

Cuneo Libarona himself will travel to Mendoza on Wednesday.

“We will present evidence on behalf of the players, concrete evidence, and the justice of Mendoza will decide whether or not to free the players,” the lawyer told AFP on Tuesday.

Charges?

After the initial questioning, prosecutor Cecilia Bignert will have 24 hours to decide whether or not to charge the players. The deadline can be extended once, by another 24 hours.

If charged, the players can be held in detention until a pre-trial hearing 10 days later to determine whether or not they will await trial in custody or as free men.

Within 10 days, they can bring a request for parole or house arrest, a spokesman for the Mendoza prosecutor’s office, Martin Ahumada, told AFP.

Grounds for requesting pre-trial detention include a danger of an accused obstructing the investigation if freed or a risk that they will flee justice.

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In the French players’ case, “it can be assumed that they have the means” to leave Argentina, said Ahumada.

Sentence

The sentence for sexual assault in Argentina ranges from six to 15 years, according to the penal code.

If there were two aggressors, this could be an aggravating circumstance, said Ahumada.

In that case, the sentence can be up to 20 years.

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