Real Madrid Striker Benzema Bags OneYear Jail Term Over Sex Tape
Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema, has been sentenced to a one-year suspended jail term today Wednesday 24th November 2021.
He was found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of a former international teammate over a sex tape.
The Versailles court also fined him €75,000 ($84,170) and ordered him to pay former teammate, Mathieu Valbuena €80,000 to cover legal costs and €150,000 in damages together with his three other co-accused.
However, Benzema’s lawyer has vowed to appeal against the verdict.
Benzema, who had denied any wrongdoing, was not in court. He is due to play for Real Madrid against Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol later in the day.
“This outcome in no way corresponds with the reality of events,” lawyer Antoine Vey told reporters afterwards.
Earlier this month, President of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, said Benzema would not be excluded from the national team if he was convicted and given the suspended sentence prosecutors wanted.
“The coach will always be responsible for his selection and Benzema will not be left out because of an eventual judicial sanction,” Le Graet told Le Parisien.
Prosecutors had argued that Benzema had encouraged Valbuena to pay a suspected group of blackmailers to keep the sexually explicit tape out of the public eye.
They said Valbuena got the first of several phone calls threatening to reveal the tape in June 2015.
Valbuena had told the court it was clear the caller wanted money and that the blackmail attempt left him scared for his career and place in the national squad.
The Real Madrid striker was recruited by the alleged blackmailers to encourage Valbuena to pay as his teammate stalled, the prosecution had added.
The French footballer had shown no goodwill to Valbuena and pretended to have his best interests at heart, the judges said in their written ruling.
Benzema had “deliberately helped the authors of the attempted blackmail of Valbuena,” they added.
Both Benzema and Valbuena lost their places in the national team in the wake of the scandal, dubbed the “sex tape affair.”
Benzema, 33, who has played more than 90 times for his country, was recalled to the France squad for this year’s European Championship.
Among Benzema’s co-defendants were childhood friend Karim Zenati, who acted as an intermediary, and Mustapha Zouaoui, one of the suspected architects of the scam.
All four defendants were found guilty in connection with the attempted blackmail.