A French court has found the Real Madrid and France star guilty of plotting to blackmail former teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape, in a case that has tarnished both of their careers.
A judge sentenced Benzema to a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined him € 75,000.
Benzema was one of five people on trial last month over an attempted extortion of Valbuena.
The scandal, which dates back to 2015, led the two players to be excluded from the French squad for five years before Benzema was brought back into the fold in May in time to play Euro 2020.
His conviction nonetheless throws a veil over the shattering return to the national team of the 33-year-old.
Benzema has scored nine times since he was recalled by France coach Didier Deschamps for the European Championship, making him the fifth top scorer in Les Bleus history.
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At the club level, Benzema is also having a sensational season, putting him in the running for the Ballon d’Or, announced on November 29, which selects the best player in the world.
He was not present at the Versailles court for the verdict of his trial, which was announced hours before Real Madrid faced Sheriff Tiraspol in a Champions League match in Moldova.
Valbuena, who plays for Greek club Olympiakos, was also absent.
Benzema was one of five people on trial last month for attempting to blackmail Valbuena with a sexually explicit video stolen from her phone.
Benzema was not accused of being behind the extortion attempt but rather of conspiring with the alleged blackmailers by pressuring Valbuena to pay them back.
The Lyon native claimed he was only trying to help his teammate when he approached him at the France squad’s training center in October 2015 and told him he could help him find someone. ‘one to “handle” the problem of the video.
No money was discussed but Valbuena called Benzema’s tone “very pushy”.
After the conversation, Benzema telephoned a childhood friend also on trial for attempted extortion to tell him “he doesn’t take us seriously” – comments the prosecution considers evidence of Benzema’s involvement in the incident. the conspiracy.
Testifying at the trial, Valbuena said the case, which also cost him his place in the France team, had left him “scared” and fearful for his career.
“Benzema is not a good Samaritan who just wanted to help”, accused prosecutor Ségolène Mares.
“No one ever said he was nice … but it’s not a criminal offense,” striker Antoine Vey’s attorney told court, who asked for the charges against him to be dropped. ‘attacker for lack of evidence.
Another Benzema lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, described the case as being motivated by Valbuena’s “jealousy” towards his former teammate.
“His reasoning is simple: ‘Me, I was sidelined (from the team) and never brought back and sportingly declined while there is Karim Benzema flying high in world football,” ” the press lawyer Sylvain Cormier.
Benzema’s impressive performances since his return to the French squad have given him new popularity with French fans.
“He’s not the same person anymore, he’s matured,” Deschamps said last month.