Thursday, December 2

Lawsuit for sex video involving French soccer stars Benzema and Valbuena opens

The sex tape trial involving French soccer stars Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena began on Wednesday.

Benzema, 33, is charged with blackmailing Valbuena along with four other people and faces a five-year prison term and a € 75,000 fine if convicted.

The star forward was not in the Versailles courtroom Wednesday morning due to professional obligations, his attorney said. His Real Madrid team was in Ukraine on Tuesday for a Champions League game and must now prepare for a “Classic” clash against Barcelona on Sunday.

Valbuena’s attorney, Paul-Albert Iweins, “deplored” Benzema’s absence. “I hope that the court will draw the consequences of this,” he said.

Benzema’s lawyers had demanded, in vain, that the two men meet and talk. The case is considered thorny because it is open to interpretation. Benzema claims it was only intended to offer friendly advice, while Valbuena says it amounted to criminal pressure.

The case dates back to October 6, 2015, when the two men were at Clairefontaine, the training center for French soccer teams.

‘Big, big bullies’

Benzema said he was helping his teammate get rid of a problem in the form of a compromising video, a type of blackmail that is reportedly rampant in soccer circles. He warned Valbuena that the owners of the video were “big, big bullies” and said he could introduce him to “someone you trust” to fix things.

Valbuena later realized that Benzema is linked to the instigators of this blackmail attempt as the friend he recommends, Karim Zenati, is an intermediary contacted by the two alleged blackmailers to pressure him.

The two alleged blackmailers, Axel Angot and Mustapha Zouaoui, initially tried to contact Valbuena after recovering the video through another French international, Djibril Cissé.

But Cissé, who was under investigation and has since been removed, refused to put them in touch with Valbuena and instead warned his former teammate at Olympique de Marseille of the video’s existence.

Angot and Zouaoui contacted Younes Houass, who contacted Valbuena by phone before contacting ‘Luka’, an undercover police officer who acted as an intermediary for the whistleblower.

But the exchanges did not progress and several times it was even ‘Luka’ who called Houass again, which, according to the defense, was a provocation to commit an infraction.

This argument was finally invalidated by the Court of Cassation after a long series of legal twists and turns.

Angot, Zouaoui, Houass and Zenati are on trial and were present at the hearing on Wednesday.

Golden Ball

Since the scandal broke, Valbuena, 37, has not been called up to play for his country. He currently plays for the Greek Olympiacos.

Benzema was also sidelined after being taken into police custody in November 2015, but made a triumphant return among the Bleus ahead of the Euro 2020 championship.

Since then he has had a string of good performances for France and is now seen as a contender for this year’s Ballon d’Or.

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