Madrid striker Benzema’s blackmailing trial begins
Versailles, France, Oct 20 (EFE).- Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema’s trial on charges of blackmailing fellow player Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape began Wednesday.
Benzema’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, told Efe the French footballer would not be attending the court proceedings in Versailles.
The 33-year-old striker played a Champions League match in Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday evening and on Sunday his team will face off against rivals FC Barcelona.
The hearing began at 9:30 local time and the trial is due to end on Friday. Four other people have also been charged for allegedly blackmailing Valbuena over the explicit video in 2015.
The allegations meant the striker was excluded from the national team for five years, forcing him to miss the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which France won.
Benzema, who is a candidate to win this year’s Ballon d’Or, has since been reinstated to the French squad and played a key role in last summer’s delayed Euro 2020.
In 2014 Valbuena, then-player for Olympique de Marseille, turned to technology expert Axel Angot to recover data from a damaged phone. It was during this operation that Angot allegedly got hold of the explicit footage.
Angot and two others allegedly tried to blackmail Valbuena, threatening to expose the tape in exchange for money.
When Valbuena did not respond, the alleged blackmailers approached Benzema, who knew one of the accused from childhood, as an intermediary.
Valbuena refused to pay and instead filed a complaint with the police. An undercover investigator recorded all the telephone conversations Valbuena had with the alleged blackmailers from that moment on.