12.06.2024 19:51 h

Prosecutors call for Pogba's brother and others to face trial in kidnap case

French prosecutors called on Wednesday for six associates of Paul Pogba, including his brother, to face trial as part of the investigation into the alleged extortion and kidnapping of the French footballer, AFP has learned from a source involved in the case.

According to the indictments, which AFP has seen, five people close to former Manchester United and Juventus midfielder Pogba are suspected of having "meticulously prepared" a meeting in the Paris suburbs on March 19, 2022.

The player, who has since been suspended for four years for doping, was kidnapped and held by two unidentified men who demanded he give them 13 million euros ($14 million), according to Paris prosecutors.

Pogba's brother Mathias was not present for that meeting but is suspected of having put pressure on his younger brother afterwards, "with the same determination to get (Paul Pogba) to hand over the money", according to prosecutors.

All have denied their guilt in the affair, claiming they were "victims" of armed robbers and that they were assaulted after Paul Pogba refused to pay.

Prosecutors called for the three childhood friends and two former acquaintances from the town where Pogba grew up in eastern Paris who were present on the night in question, to be tried for extortion, illegal restraint and criminal conspiracy.

Previously the five were indicted for extortion with a weapon and kidnapping in an organised gang, as well as for criminal conspiracy, prior to Wednesday's requested reclassification of the charges.

The decision on whether or not to refer the case for trial will now pass to an investigating judge.

On July 16, 2022, Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba filed a complaint with Italian prosecutors saying he was the target of a multi-million-euro blackmail plot.

Paul Pogba, now 31, told investigators that his blackmailers wanted to discredit him by claiming he asked a "marabout", or holy man, to cast a spell on the then Paris Saint-Germain and France star Kylian Mbappe, which Pogba denies.

French prosecutors launched an investigation on September 2 of that year, which was handled jointly by the French police's anti-gang and central crime units.

In late September of that year, his brother Mathias posted a series of videos on social media incriminating Paul Pogba and accusing him of having "abandoned" his family.

The videos came after Mathias Pogba had published a previous video online on August 27 -- in French, Italian, English and Spanish -- promising "great revelations" about his brother Paul and the former's subsequent detention by French authorities on September 14.

During the investigation, Mathias said he had been afraid for his safety and that of his family, and then told investigating magistrates in January that he had been manipulated by the other suspects, and that he hoped he would soon be reconciled with his younger brother.

Prosecutors Wednesday called for him be tried for extortion and participation in a criminal conspiracy.

"It cannot be seriously disputed that the relationship between Mathias Pogba and his brother Paul has been marked, for several years, by tensions centred around the question of money," prosecutors said.

"Several conversations intercepted (in the summer of 2022)... attested to the clear intention of the interested party to obtain payment under threat," they added.