Real Madrid forward Benzema on trial in France for blackmail

10/19/2021

Iyon, Oct. 19: Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema will stand trial outside Paris starting Wednesday after being accused of trying to blackmail former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

Benzema is on trial for complicity in attempted blackmail. Four other people, including one of the player’s childhood friends, have been charged with attempted blackmail.

The charges are punishable by up to five years in prison and a 75,000 euro ($87,400) fine. Benzema has denied wrongdoing.

During questioning, the 33-year-old Benzema acknowledged he had served as an intermediary between one of the alleged blackmailers, his friend Karim Zenati, and Valbuena, who now plays for Greek club Olympiakos.

But Benzema also told investigators that he took no part in blackmail and that his involvement was limited to simply telling Valbuena, out of friendship, about the existence of the sex tape.

It is unclear whether Benzema will be physically present at the trial from Wednesday through Friday in Versailles. Real Madrid was playing at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday and Benzema travelled and trained with his team in Kiev ahead of the match.

Valbuena first filed a police complaint in June 2015. He said that while on international duty for France, at its training base in Clairefontaine, he had been telephoned by an anonymous caller who spoke about a sex tape and told him that they could come to arrangement. The caller told Valbuena to designate a trusted intermediary to work out the details.

With a police detective posing as a negotiator, the investigation initially identified three people: Axel Angot, Mustapha Zouaoui and Younes Houass, all now standing trial for attempted blackmail. Their communications were wire-tapped.

Benzema was subsequently brought in by Zenati, a friend who has previous drug and robbery convictions and had been released from prison in 2013.

When both were on international duty in October 2015, Benzema asked Valbuena into his room at Clairefontaine for a conversation that led Valbuena to conclude that his France teammate was involved with the alleged blackmailers and acting as their intermediary.

Police say they heard Benzema tell Zenati in a wire-tapped call that evening that Valbuena “isn’t taking us seriously”.                

Benzema later told the investigating magistrate that he had simply wanted to help the midfielder.

Benzema and Zenati were both handed preliminary charges in November 2015, joining Angot, Zouaoui and Houass under formal investigation.

Benzema was then dropped from France’s national team by coach Didier Deschamps, missing the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup, which was won by France.

Deschamps recalled Benzema in May ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament and has fielded him 11 times so far in 2021.

Valbuena, now 37, hasn’t played for France since October 11, 2015, when he came on as a substitute in a friendly match against Denmark.-AP 

Related News

Malinga is world’s best yorker bowler, says Bumrah

New Delhi, June 5: India’s premier pacer Jasprit Bumrah has described Lasith Malinga as the “best yorker bowler in the world” and said the veteran Sri Lankan has used his mastery over the delivery for a very long period of time in international cricket. “Malinga is the best yorker bowler…

English Premier League teams prepare for restart with practice games

London, June 7: Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal were among the clubs who stepped up their preparations for the Premier League's return by holding practice matches. Clubs are attempting to build up players' fitness as well as get used to playing without fans before the league resumes on June 17…

ICC ratifies interim ban on saliva on ball

London, June 10: Players will be banned from the age-old technique of using saliva to shine a ball when cricket emerges from the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Tuesday. Several other interim measures designed to ensure the safety of players and match…

Qatar 2022 World Cup stadium workers went months without pay, says Amnesty

Dubai, June 11: A Qatari company helping build a 2022 World Cup stadium has been banned from the event's projects after its labourers went unpaid for months, organisers said on Thursday, in a case Amnesty International said showed inadequate worker welfare standards. Around 100 employees of a Qatari subcontractor, Qatar…

Pak ex-cricketer Shahid Afridi tests positive for coronavirus, says 'need prayers for speedy recovery'

Karachi, June 13: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Saturday said he has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first high-profile cricketer to be infected with the deadly virus. "I've been feeling unwell since Thursday; my body had been aching badly. I've been tested and unfortunately I'm COVID-19 positive. Need…

Gary Kirsten recalls how he landed India coach's job in 7 minutes

New Delhi, June 15: He was never interested in coaching neither did he apply for the job, but it took exactly seven minutes for Gary Kirsten to land the high-profile India coach's job back in 2007, a process set in motion by the great Sunil Gavaskar. Speaking on the 'Cricket…

Video

Find Us on Facebook

From Social