Karim Benzema: French court says Real Madrid star used “subterfuge and lies” in sex tape case

In 2014, French footballer Mathieu Valbuena was looking to recover data from his old phone when his life changed forever and he fell into a blackmail plot.
More than seven years later, former Valbuena teammate in France, Karim Benzema, who plays for Real Madrid, was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence and a € 75,000 ($ 84,000) fine for complicity in attempted blackmail.

Four of Benzema’s co-defendants at trial were also found guilty, three of them receiving prison terms.

Tewfik Bouzenoun, the lawyer for the accused Younes Houass, sentenced to 18 months in prison, told CNN that his client had been “manipulated”.

“He never blackmailed or blackmailed because he never asked for money. He never had a financial request,” Bouzenoun told CNN in a statement.

“I think the verdicts are less severe than those requested by the prosecutor, I see leniency and leniency.”

CNN is trying to contact lawyers for the other co-defendants.

READ: Real Madrid star convicted of aiding and abetting attempted blackmail in sex tape case

Among the files transferred from Valbuena’s broken phone in 2014 by Axel Angot was a video containing sexual content involving Valbuena.

Almost a year later, Angot, with the help of others, attempted to use the sex tape to blackmail the footballer, according to a statement from the Versailles court which convicted Benzema.

The men who were trying to blackmail Valbuena also contacted another former France international, Djibril Cissé, who, like Benzema, has played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with the aim of convincing Valbuena to pay.

However, Cisse refused to help, according to court documents.

The blackmailers therefore turned to Benzema, who was a childhood friend of one of them, Karim Zenati, to try to convince Valbuena to pay.

In rendering its judgment, the court ruled that Benzema, by “falsely presenting himself as a friend eager to help his teammate”, used his professional stature and his lies to convince Valbuena to “submit to blackmail by paying a sum money and to contact for this purpose his friend Karim Zenati who was the only one able to help him. “

After Wednesday’s verdict, Benzema’s legal team said the Real Madrid star would be cleared “by the court of appeal”.

“It was clearly announced by the court that Karim Benzema was not aware of the previous machinations, and then they finally said he could not, not have known, without any evidence,” said one of the Benzema’s lawyers, Sylvain Cormier, outside. the courtroom.

“They sentenced him with a very harsh and unfair sentence without proof. I am quite shocked by this decision,” Cormier added.

Benzema's lawyers Sylvain Cormier, right, and Antoine Vey respond to reporters after the verdict.

The court statement said Benzema and Valbuena were not friends before this incident. The 33-year-old Real Madrid star didn’t even have Valbuena’s phone number, the court said.

Benzema lied about his meeting with Mustapha Zouaoui, whom the court called the mastermind behind the blackmail, when he was first questioned by investigators, according to the documents. He was doing it to protect Zenati, the childhood friend and employee of Benzema, according to the court statement.

Benzema insisted that Valbuena meet Zenati. The Real Madrid player told Valbuena, who now plays for Greek club Olympiacos, that those in possession of the tape were from major criminal groups in the city of Marseille, in the south of France, and advised him not to go to the police or his lawyer.

Benzema even swore “on her daughter’s head” to Valbuena that there would be no copy of the sex tape, according to the court’s findings.

Valbuena understood “that the purpose of the maneuver was to extract a sum of money from him in order to prevent the video from being made public,” the court said in the statement.

The court acknowledged that Benzema may not have been aware of the behind-the-scenes maneuvers that were taking place, but said he was personally involved in the use of “subterfuge and lies” to “convince his teammate [Valbuena] to submit to blackmail and to contact for this purpose his trusted man, in this case Karim Zenati. “

The court made this judgment based on the content of Benzema’s discussion with Valbuena on October 6, 2015, in the Paris suburb of Clairefontaine – the site of the France team’s training ground – which he told Zenati immediately after.

The recorded telephone conversations between Benzema and Zenati, which were played during the trial, showed no goodwill towards Valbuena and “proves the existence of an attempt at blackmail carried out by the duo”, according to the statement.

The French Football Federation said it had no statement on the case at the request of CNN but its president, Noël Le Graët, clarified that Benzema is “still a player of the France team. This decision does not change anything. for us”.

Real Madrid declined to comment on the case at CNN’s request.

Valbuena’s lawyer, Paul-Albert Iweins, also declined to comment on Benzema’s conviction.

Later on Wednesday, Benzema played and scored in Real Madrid’s Champions League victory over Sheriff Tiraspol.

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