French reality TV star held on suspicion of stabbing boyfriend
A French reality TV star whose trademark "hello? I mean hello?" expression earned her national derision and fame has been detained on suspicion of stabbing her boyfriend in the chest, police said Friday.
Nabilla Benattia, who denies any wrongdoing, rose to fame last year when she uttered those words in horror after learning that fellow female contestants had not brought shampoo with them on a show.
Firemen were called to a hotel in Boulogne-Billancourt near Paris in the early hours of Friday after the 22-year-old, who has now become a television commentator known by her first name Nabilla, apparently had a fight with her boyfriend Thomas Vergara, whom she met on reality TV.
Vergara had several knife wounds in the chest and "his situation is considered serious" though not life-threatening, said police and prosecutors.
According to her initial statement, the couple was assaulted by three people and Vergara was injured when he tried to stop them, another police source said.
However, under subsequent questioning as part of an attempted homicide probe, Nabilla told investigators Vergara had taken cocaine and accidentally stabbed himself during a violent dispute with her.
"For the moment, it's too early to tell if her statement is credible.
Verifications are going to have to be done," especially with the victim who could not yet be interviewed, the Nanterre prosecutor's office told AFP.
Vergara remained hospitalised on Friday in stable condition.
Prosecutors said Nabilla herself called the firemen saying there had been a fight outside the building after "the couple returned by taxi from an evening out".
She said Vergara only realised he was injured when they got to their room, they added.
"After checking, police officers do not confirm these statements," prosecutors said, pointing to the fact there was no trace of blood outside the hotel.
A police source added that video-surveillance images showed that the two arrived separately and that Vergara seemed well and healthy when he entered the building.
- Famous expression trademarked -Nabilla's famous expression spawned countless parodies, including one video where she calls a visibly irate Hitler, and inspired several ad campaigns, prompting the curvaceous brunette to have it registered as a trademark.
She had been taking part in the fifth instalment of "The Angels of Reality TV" -- a show that groups together candidates and stars of other, previous reality TV shows -- when she uttered those words.
"Hello? I mean hello? You're a girl and you don't have shampoo, hello? Hello! Do you receive me? You're a girl and you don't have shampoo.
It's as if I tell you, you're a girl and you don't have hair," she said in shock in an episode broadcast in March 2013.
Ikea was quick to capitalise on the gimmick to promote its "Hallo" cushion in the southern city of Marseille, putting up a store sign saying "Hello? I mean hello? You're a chair and you don't have a cushion? Hello? Hello!"The discount stores DIA, meanwhile, launched the slogan "hello? It's as if I tell you you're a hen and you're not made out of chocolate", days before Easter last year.
- France's Kim Kardashian -Of Algerian and Italian origin and carrying French and Swiss nationality, she started appearing in reality shows in 2011.
But it was her star turn in "The Angels of Reality TV" that propelled her to stardom.
She went on to front her own reality show called "Hello Nabilla" about her and her family, much like her idol Kim Kardashian.
She has also modelled for Jean-Paul Gaultier, published a book and appeared in the French Vanity Fair.
Nabilla and Vergara also launched their pret-a-porter label in September called "Blooshop".
A siliconed bimbo for some, contemptuous and calculating for others, she has nevertheless become a household name in France.
She is also known for losing her temper.
In May 2013, for instance, she spat in the face of a train conductor, who filed a complaint against her.
© 2014 AFP