Real Madrid striker and France international Karim Benzema’s trial on charges of complicity in the blackmail of former teammate Mathieu Valbuena begins this week
The trial of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema on charges of complicity in blackmail begins on Wednesday with prosecutors asking for five years in prison for the player if found guilty.
The charges relate to allegations over the 33-year-old’s complicity in the blackmail of his former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena in a case known as the “sextape affair”, with Benzema labelling the charges as absurd.
Four other men are also on trial, which is set to last three days.
Benzema is alleged to have acted as an intermediary between a group of alleged blackmailers and Valbuena, who was filmed in an intimate scenario.
The Madrid striker is charged with encouraging his then-international teammate to match the demands of those blackmailing him and therefore an attempt to extort money from the player.
Valbuena refused the alleged request, and both players were subsequently excluded from the France international setup in 2016 – with Benzema only returning to the fold for Les Bleus earlier this year.
Benzema will now face trial in the Court of Versailles this week into the events with prosecutors asking for up to five years in prison for the striker alongside a potential fine of £63k if he is found guilty.
The player’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, told the Efe agency in January, as per Marca : “The decision to bring him to trial is an absurd and unfair cruelty.
“Benzema has nothing to reproach himself with in this summary.”
The player’s lawyers have not confirmed whether the player will be present at the hearing, amid a busy sports schedule; Real Madrid had a vital Champions League group stage game away against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday before facing Barcelona in El Clasico on Sunday.
Valbuena, who now plays for Greek club Olympiakos, is set to be present at the proceedings, his lawyer has claimed.
Benzema spent a night in jail in Versailles in November 2015 before being charged with complicity in blackmail and a separate charge of association with criminals – the latter charge that was not upheld by the prosecution.
As outlined by Marca, Valbuena asked Axel Angot – known among footballers for his ability to fix technical problems on computers and phones – to rescue the data from a broken mobile phone.
It is detailed that the video was then transferred onto Angot’s computer with it reported that he then allegedly conspired to devise a plan to obtain compensation from Valbuena.
It was alleged that they initially went through Valbuena’s then-Marseille teammate Djibril Cisse – who was initially charged in the case, but was later cleared – who instead warned Valbuena of what was happening.
It was at this juncture that Angot – who is now on trial for a breach of trust – allegedly contacted Karim Zenati, a childhood friend of Benzema.
Prosecutors claim Zenati enlisted Benzema’s help to reach Valbuena with the two France international teammates then speaking about the situation at a hotel in October 2015.
Benzema is alleged to have told Valbuena that he could introduce him to a “trustworthy person” that would assist him to “manage” the possible publication of a compromising video.
Benzema then reportedly claimed: “Be careful ‘Math’, these are very, very heavy criminals.”
Benzema then reportedly called his friend Zenati to say of Valbuena that he was “not taking us seriously”, which prosecutors allege show his complicity in the blackmailing due to his alleged use of the word ‘us’.
Zenati then allegedly replied: “If he doesn’t want us to handle this for him, he’ll have to deal with the piranhas,” as both reportedly say they just wanted to alert Valbuena to the seriousness of the situation.
Police are said to have used an undercover agent known as “Luka” to help obtain proof to help bring the case to court.
The timing of the trial comes as Benzema is in the best form of his career on the pitch and is one of the leading contenders for the Ballon d’Or awards this year.
Benzema explained in an interview with Diario AS: “Since I was little, I have had the dream of winning the Ballon d’Or, which is the dream that all footballers have.
“Of course, I am going to do everything possible and I am going to work as hard as possible to have that great trophy, to hopefully win it one day and fulfil that dream that I have had since I was a child.”
Benzema helped France to winning the Nations League earlier this month having been restored to Didier Deschamps’s squad ahead of Euro 2020.
Denial of responsibility! Swiftheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – email@example.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.