A French court on Nov. 24 found international soccer star Karim Benzema guilty of conspiring to blackmail a former teammate with a sex tape.
The court in Versailles handed a one-year suspended jail sentence to Benzema and ordered him to pay a €75,000 ($84,097) fine over an attempt to extort fellow French soccer player Mathieu Valbuena.
Benzema, who plays for the French national team and for Real Madrid, was not present in court for the verdict due to sporting commitments. Valbuena was also not present.
Benzema is one of five people put on trial last month over the case that dates back to June 2015.
The court also found the four other defendants guilty, handing them penalties ranging from 18-month suspended prison sentences to two and a half years in jail.
According to prosecutors, Benzema pressured Valbuena to pay the blackmailers who threatened to publicly release a sexually explicit video thought to have been stolen from Valbuena’s mobile phone.
The judge said that Benzema had “implicated himself personally, through subterfuge and lies, to convince his teammate to submit to the blackmail.”
Benzema has always denied the accusations, insisting that he was only trying to help Valbuena find a solution to get rid of the video and the blackmailers.
One of the blackmailers’ intermediary was a childhood friend of Benzema’s childhood friend.
Lawyers for Benzema said that he plans to appeal the sentence, calling it “unfair and based on no proof.”
“The reaction is ultimately an angry one to this judgment which is perfectly contradictory,” Sylvain Cormier, one of Benzema’s lawyers, told reporters.
© Fourth Estate® — All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.