Real Madrid forward, Karim Benzema, has been found guilty in a sex tape blackmail case and has been handed a one-year suspended prison sentence and a 75,000 euro fine.
He was found guilty of being complicit in the attempted blackmail of his former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The judgment from a court in Versailles — which found Benzema guilty of “complicity” in the affair — brings an end to a legal saga dating back to 2015, which saw Benzema exiled from the France national team for almost six years. Benzema did not attend the three-day trial last month. His lawyer cited professional reasons, with the 33-year-old in training with Real Madrid ahead of their El Clasico clash with Barcelona.
Four other men — Axel Angot, Mustapha Zouaoui, Youness Houass and Karim Zenati — were also found guilty, receiving prison sentences ranging from a conditional 18 months, to an obligatory two-and-a-half years.
The case involved a sexually explicit video, which prosecutors said Angot discovered on Valbuena’s mobile phone after he had been asked to transfer its contents to a new device. Angot and a third defendant, Zouaoui, tried to use the video to extort money from Valbuena, who was then playing for Lyon and France. They enlisted another defendant, Houass, before eventually turning to Zenati, a childhood friend of Benzema, who prosecutors said recruited the forward as a “middleman.” Valbuena contacted the police, who began a sting operation.
Meanwhile, Noel Le Graet, the current president of the French Football Federation, made clear three weeks ago that the court’s decision would not affect Benzema’s career with Les Blues.
This means that despite being found guilty, the Real Madrid striker will participate at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with France after leading them to UEFA Nations League glory back in October.