French rugby players suspected of assault in Argentina moved to western city for court appearance


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentine authorities on Thursday transferred two French rugby players under police guard from Buenos Aires to the western city of Mendoza, where they are expected to appear in court on suspicion of aggravated sexual assault.

The rugby players, Oscar Jegou and Hugo Auradou, arrived in Mendoza after a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) journey from the Argentine capital via police van as prosecutors confirmed the case against the two men would be progressing to court on Friday. The men stand accused of “sexual abuse with carnal excess” in a grisly case that has shaken the French rugby world.

French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said on X that, if confirmed, the incident represents “an unspeakable atrocity.”

The alleged assault took place early Sunday inside a Mendoza hotel room a day after the two athletes made their debut in a test match against Argentina’s Pumas in the city.

Celebrating their 28-13 win at a nightclub on Saturday, 21-year-old Jegou and 20-year-old Auradou met a woman and took her back to their room at the sleek glass-paneled Diplomatic Hotel, one of the most upscale accommodations in town. The victim, who has not been identified, alleges that both players took turns “repeatedly” raping her that night.

The victim’s lawyer, Natacha Romano, told The Associated Press that the players prevented the young woman from leaving the hotel room following the alleged assault. “She was forced to escape,” Romano said. The victim filed a police report on Sunday and underwent a forensic physical examination.

The French Rugby Federation said the players admitted to having sex with the young woman but “firmly denied committing any kind of violence.” Their lawyer declined comment when reached by the AP on Thursday.

The players were arrested Monday in Buenos Aires as their teammates continued onto Montevideo, Uruguay, where they won 43-28 on Wednesday. The test tour now takes the French rugby team to Buenos Aires for another match against Argentina in the coming days.

Martín Ahumada, the spokesperson for Mendoza’s prosecutor’s office, said he expects the players to remain in pre-trial detention for 10 days.

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Follow AP’s coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean at https://apnews.com/hub/latin-america



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