Karim Benzema was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence and a € 75,000 fine for his involvement in the attempt to blackmail former teammate Mathieu Valbuena on a sex tape. Benzema’s lawyer told reporters on Wednesday that the player would appeal the verdict.
The judgment of a court in Versailles – which found Benzema guilty of “complicity” in the case – puts an end to a legal saga dating back to 2015 which saw Benzema exiled from the France national team for nearly six years. Benzema did not attend the three-day trial last month. His lawyer cited professional reasons, the 33-year-old man in training with real Madrid before their The classic to face Barcelona.
Four other men – Axel Angot, Mustapha Zouaoui, Younes Houass and Karim Zenati – were also found guilty, with prison terms ranging from 18 months suspended to two and a half years mandatory.
The case involved a sexually explicit video that prosecutors said Angot discovered on Valbuena’s phone after he was asked to transfer its content to a new device. Angot and a third defendant, Zouaoui, attempted to use the video to extort money from Valbuena, who was then playing for Lyonnais and French. They enlisted another defendant, Houass, before finally turning to Zenati, a childhood friend of Benzema, who prosecutors say recruited the attacker as an “intermediary”. Valbuena contacted the police, who started an undercover operation.
Benzema spoke to Valbuena about the video at a training camp in France in October 2015. Benzema denied any wrongdoing, saying he was trying to help resolve the situation and warning his teammate to “be careful” , describing the blackmailers as “serious criminals”.
However, police, prosecutors and the court interpreted Benzema’s offer of help as an incitement to the blackmail plan.
Benzema returned to the France national team earlier this year, playing Euro 2020 and playing in their UEFA Nations League final victory. He is La Liga’s top scorer so far this season with 10 goals.
Valbuena – now at Olympiakos in Greece – has not played for his country since the incident.
Reuters information was used in this report.