TOP STORIES - Karim Benzema trial for alleged blackmail begins today

20.10.2021 06:20 of A.R. TransferMarketWeb   see readings
TOP STORIES - Karim Benzema trial for alleged blackmail begins today
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© photo Matteo Gribaudi/Image Sport

France striker Karim Benzema’s trial for alleged complicity in the act of blackmail begins today at the Versailles tribunal, and will go on for three days.

L’Équipe report that the maximum sentence for the offence is up to five years in prison and a €75,000 fine. The events that led to the trial began in 2015, as then-France international Mathieu Valbuena received several phone calls over the course of the international break in June, which saw him the victim of an attempt at blackmail in return for not circulating an intimate video of his – the midfielder went on to lodge a formal complaint. 

Police investigators then recorded six phone conversations over the June-October period, according to L’Équipe. In October, Valbuena and Karim Benzema had a conversation over the sextape in question. By mid-October, four men including Djibril Cissé had been placed under police custody. The former striker would eventually be freed, but the other three were then placed under formal investigation for “blackmail and participation in an association of wrongdoers”. Valbuena would then publicly clear Cissé’s name, stating that he had “acted as a friend”.

In November, one of the blackmailers in charge of contacting Benzema so that the former Lyon man would speak to Valbuena had been taken into police custody. The forward was then taken into custody himself, put under formal investigation and placed under judicial review.

A transcript of the phone exchange between the blackmailer and Benzema was then published in L’Équipe, before Valbuena himself pointed the finger at the Real Madrid man in an interview with Le Monde. By the following month, the French Football Federation would indicate that he would be removed from the France team until the situation had evolved.