Benzema to appear in court over alleged role in Valbuena sex tape blackmail plot
Real Madrid star Karim Benzema will appear in court in Versailles in October over his alleged role in an attempt to blackmail his former France international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
In what has become known as the sex tape case, Benzema, 33, faces a charge of complicity in attempted blackmail.
He will go before the judges between 20 and 22 October. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to five years and fined 75,000 euros. Four other men have been charged with attempted blackmail.
Benzema, who has been sidelined from the national team since the start of the case nearly six years ago, is accused of having incited Valbuena to pay blackmailers who threatened to reveal an intimate video featuring him.
The case against Benzema hinges around a discussion in October 2015 with Valbuena while the pair were at the France team's training centre in Clairefontaine, just outside Paris.
Benzema, it is alleged, told Valbuena he could introduce him to someone to help him manage the possible publication of the compromising video.
The court will decide if the suggestion was friendly advice to the then Lyon midfielder or criminal pressure.
The affair began in the summer of 2014 when Valbuena asked Axel Angot to transfer data from one mobile phone to another.
Among the files was a sex video featuring Valbuena and his companion.
In June 2015, Valbuena filed a complaint after an anonymous call allegedly offered him the chance to avoid the publication of the video.
Angot and another man, Mustapha Zouaoui, are accused of trying to make Valbuena pay.
To do this, the two men contacted Karim Zenati, a friend of Benzema.
After his conversation with Valbuena in Clairefontaine in October 2015, Benzema called Zenati and in the conversation, say prosecutors, revealed his involvement in the plot.
Benzema, who has protested his innocence, said on social media that he welcomed the court date.
"Here, finally, let the masquerade be over forever," he said.
After two seasons with Lyon, Valbuena left to play for Fenerbahçe in Turkey.
In 2019 he joined the Greek outfit Olympiakos and helped them to a league and cup double in 2020.
On Monday, Olympiakos announced the 36-year-old signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until the end of the 2022 season.
Ο Ματιέ Βαλμπουενά υπέγραψε την ανανέωση του συμβολαίου του με τον Ολυμπιακό για έναν ακόμα χρόνο! / @MathieuVal8 signed his contract renewal with Olympiacos for another year! 🔴⚪️#Olympiacos #MathieuValbuena #France #Football #Renew #WeKeepOnDreaming pic.twitter.com/75S0ENSLxc— Olympiacos FC (45🏆) (@olympiacosfc) March 29, 2021
Olympiakos finished top of the Super League after the first 26 games of the 2020/21 campaign.
They will contest the championship round with AEK Athens, PAOK, Panathinaikos, Aris and Asteras Tripolis.
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