Real Madrid star Karim Benzema has been given a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined €75,000 for his involvement in the attempted sex tape blackmail of former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
The court actually handed Benzema a longer sentence than the prosecution wanted, with Valbuena's legal team only requesting a 10-month suspended sentence. Despite this, Benzema's lawyer maintained the four-time Champions League winner's innocence and confirmed an appeal would be filed.
"It was clearly announced by the court that Karim Benzema was not aware of the prior machinations and then in the end they said that 'he cannot, not have known,' without any proof," said Benzema's lawyer following the verdict. "They have condemned him with a very severe, unjust sentence without proof. We will of course appeal because Karim Benzema did nothing wrong in this affair."
As things stand, Benzema will not spend any time behind bars as a 'suspended sentence' means the player will only go to prison if he is found guilty of further related crimes within the 12-month sentence period.
The case dates back to 2015, when Valbuena asked a man in Marseille, Axel Angot, to upload the contents of his mobile phone to a new device. Angot found sexually explicit content on the phone and, together with an associate called Mustapha Zouaoui, attempted to blackmail Valbuena by threatening to publicise the explicit content.
Benzema has now been found guilty over allegations that he pressured Valbuena – who now plays for Greek club Olympiakos – to pay the blackmailers, for whom he acted as an intermediary. Benzema was ultimately one of five men put on trial over the saga.
Benzema has always denied the allegations and insisted he was only trying to help Valbuena get rid of the compromising video. Neither he nor Valbuena were present at the trial in Versailles.
The 33-year-old is currently the top goal scorer in La Liga, with 10 goals in 12 games. He is expected to start Real's Champions League clash with FC Sheriff this evening.
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