Start of sex tape trial involving French football stars Benzema and Valbuena

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The sex tape trial involving French football stars Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena opened on Wednesday.

Benzema, 33, is accused of blackmailing Valbuena alongside four other people and faces a five-year prison sentence and a fine of € 75,000 if convicted.

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

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

Benzema’s lawyers had demanded – in vain – that the two men meet and talk to each other. The case is considered thorny because it is open to interpretation. Benzema claims he only wanted to give 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 the French national football teams.

“Big, big thugs”

Benzema said he was helping his teammate get rid of an issue in the form of a compromising video – a type of blackmail reportedly prevalent in football circles. He warned Valbuena that the owners of the video were “big, big thugs” and said he could introduce it to “someone he trusts” to sort things out.

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

The two alleged blackmailers – Axel Angot and Mustapha Zouaoui – first tried to get in touch with Valbuena after recovering the video through another French international, Djibril Cissé.

But Cissé, who was the subject of an investigation abandoned since, refused to put them in touch with Valbuena and instead warned his former teammate of the Olympique de Marseille of the existence of the video.

Angot and Zouaoui then went through Younes Houass, who contacted Valbuena on his phone before being put in touch with ‘Luka’, an undercover police officer who served as an intermediary for the complainant.

But the exchanges did not advance and it was even on several occasions ‘Luka’ who recalled Houass, which, according to the defense, constituted a provocation to commit an offense.

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 Wednesday’s hearing.

Golden ball

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

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

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


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