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French prosecutors call for Real Madrid star Karim Benzema to receive a 10-month suspended sentence

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French prosecutors call for Real Madrid star Karim Benzema to receive a 10-month suspended sentence and £63,000 fine in sex tape blackmail trial

  • Karim Benzema is one of five people on trial over a 2015 extortion attempt
  • The striker was allegedly complicit in a blackmail attempt on former teammate
  • French prosecutors called for Benzema to be handed a suspended sentence 


French prosecutors today called for Real Madrid star Karim Benzema to be handed a 10-month suspended sentence and £63,000 fine.

Benzema is one of five people on trial over a 2015 extortion attempt that halted his career with the French national team for five-and-a-half years.

The striker was allegedly complicit in the attempt to blackmail former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape. 

The affair rocked the French national team and led to both Benzema and Valbuena being cut from the squad. 

Benzema, 33, made a successful comeback during this year’s European championships but Valbuena, 37, was never called up by Les Bleus again.

‘I apologise from the bottom of my heart, I really regret it,’ Mustapha Zouaoui, one of four people accused along with Benzema of trying to hold Valbuena to ransom, told Valbuena on the second day of the trial.

Karim Benzema (pictured on Tuesday) is one of five people on trial over a 2015 extortion attempt that halted his career with the French national team for five-and-a-half years

Karim Benzema (pictured on Tuesday) is one of five people on trial over a 2015 extortion attempt that halted his career with the French national team for five-and-a-half years

Zouaoui is believed to have come up with the blackmail plot, which Valbuena says left him feeling fearful, both for his safety and his career.

Benzema, who played and scored for Real in a Champions League match in Ukraine on Tuesday, is not attending the proceedings in Versailles outside Paris.

Testifying on the opening day of the trial, Valbuena said being selected for the national team was ‘the Holy Grail for footballers’ and that he ‘never could have imagined’ a team-mate being implicated in a plot against him.

Benzema claims he was only trying to help the midfielder when he approached him about the sex tape in October 2015 and told him he could help him find someone to ‘manage’ the affair.

He also warned Valbuena that he was dealing with ‘very, very heavy criminals’.

Valbuena, 37, who now plays for Greek club Olympiakos, told the court Benzema was ‘very insistent’ during the conversation at the French team’s training centre in Clairefontaine, west of Paris.

Sylvain Cormier, one of the lawyers for Benzema arrives at the courthouse on the opening day of the trial on Wednesday

Sylvain Cormier, one of the lawyers for Benzema arrives at the courthouse on the opening day of the trial on Wednesday

He said the exchange left him feeling ‘frightened’ and that while money was not discussed it was clear that Benzema was not suggesting payment ‘in football tickets.’

Prosecutors believe that Benzema was trying to pressure Valbuena into paying hush money.

They point to a phone-tapped conversation in which the striker told a friend acting as a middlemen for the suspected blackmailers that ‘he’s not taking us seriously’ as proof that Benzema was an accomplice to the extortion attempt.

Benzema’s lawyer claimed Wednesday the case was driven by what he called Valbuena’s ‘jealousy’ of his more successful former international team-mate.

Files for Benzema's trial are pictured inside the courtroom Wednesday

Files for Benzema’s trial are pictured inside the courtroom Wednesday

‘His reasoning is simple: ‘Me, I was sidelined (from the team) and never brought back and declined in sporting terms while there is Karim Benzema who is flying high in global football,’ lawyer Sylvain Cormier told reporters outside the courtroom.

If convicted Benzema faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of £59,000 (€70,000).

Since returning to the French squad for this year’s European Championship he has put in some impressive performances which have given him a new-found popularity with French fans.

France coach Didier Deschamps said this month that ‘he’s no longer the same person, he’s matured’.   

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