Date set for Benzema blackmail trial

Paris, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- The trial of Real Madrid French forward Karim Benzema for his alleged involvement in blackmailing his former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape will be held between October 20-21, judicial sources told Efe on Tuesday.

Benzema could be handed up to a five-year prison sentence and 75,000-euro fine if found guilty.

Four other defendants will also stand trial, the sources added.

The case dates back to the summer of 2014, when technician Axel Angot obtained a video with sexual content featuring Valbuena and his partner from the player’s smart phone. He was supposed to be helping Valbuena fix an issue with the device.

Angot and his friend Mustapha Zouaoui approached Valbuena in June 2015 demanding money to not publish the video, according to the indictment, but Valbuena refused to pay them and went to the police.

The alleged blackmailers first unsuccessfully contacted former French footballer Djibril Cisse to try to convince Valbuena to pay, before turning to Benzema’s childhood friend Karim Zenati so that the Real Madrid star could intervene on their behalf.

On 5 October 2015, during a national team camp, Benzema advised Valbuena to pay and avoid any problems.

Although he insists he was just giving friendly advice, the prosecution considers Benzema’s behavior to be an illegal act of pressure. He was subsequently charged on 5 November 2018 with being complicit to blackmail.

On 7 January, the Versailles prosecutor office decided that Real Madrid forward should stand trial.

The 33-year-old, who many consider to be France’s most gifted striker, has not been called up for the national team since the case came to light in late 2015. EFE-EPA

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