Benzema receives a one-year suspended sentence in sex-tape scandal

In the sex-tape scandal, Benzema received a one-year suspended sentence.

Karim Benzema, of France and Real Madrid, was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended, and fined 75,000 euros ($84,000) on Wednesday in a sex-tape case that shook French soccer and put the gifted striker’s international career on wait for more than five years.

Benzema was found guilty in 2015 of attempting to blackmail France teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Benzema was also forced to pay Valbuena 80,000 euros ($89,700) in damages in addition to the punishment. Benzema’s attorneys have stated that he would file an appeal.

Benzema was accused of involvement in a blackmail attempt with a sex tape obtained from Valbuena’s phone. The Versailles court judgment is unlikely to have an immediate impact on Benzema’s sports career. Following a great season with Real Madrid, the attacker is considered one of the favorites to win the Ballon d’Or on November 29 in Paris.

Benzema was named to Real Madrid’s roster for their Champions League group-stage match against Moldova champion Sheriff later Wednesday, which he scored in the 55th minute in a 3-0 win. Benzema, who denied involvement, did not attend the trial last month in Versailles and was not present for the verdict. On Wednesday, the four other defendants, who were also convicted of attempted blackmail, did not appear in court.

“Benzema will come to explain himself before the court of appeal,” said Antoine Vey, one of the player’s lawyers. “He was absent from the trial for professional reasons; the fact that he was absent influenced the judgment. This conviction is unfounded.”

Prosecutors had requested for Benzema to be fined 75,000 euros, the highest amount permitted under the accusation, and to be sentenced to a suspended 10-month prison sentence if found guilty.

According to the court, Mustapha Zouaoui was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for masterminding the scheme. Axel Angot, who obtained the sex tape in 2014, was sentenced to two years in jail.

Younes Houass, another convicted blackmailer, received an 18-month suspended sentence, while Karim Zenati, Benzema’s lifelong pal, was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Both Angot’s and Zenati’s phrases might be tweaked a bit further. Benzema was withdrawn from France’s national team by coach Didier Deschamps after initial accusations were filed in November 2015.

As a result, Benzema could not compete in the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup, which France won. Benzema was recalled by Deschamps in May ahead of the postponed Euro 2020 campaign, and he has played him regularly since then.

Didier Domat, Valbuena’s lawyer, said the verdict was a relief for his client. Valbuena, unlike his former teammate, has not represented France since the controversy surfaced. “He has had a difficult time overcoming sporting biases,” Domat added. “We are happy that his victim status has been acknowledged.”

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