The trial in France football’s famous sex tape and blackmail case has started with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema accused of complicity in the attempt to blackmail former teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
Though Benzema has denied his involvement in the case in which some people tried to blackmail Valbuena after finding some sexually explicit video on his mobile phone, he is charged with intervening on behalf of the main accused. Benzema, who lost his place in the France national team along with Valbuena when the scandal broke out in 2015.
The trial started on Tuesday, the day Benzema was in Ukraine playing for Real Madrid against Shatkar Donetsk at Kyiv. Benzema is on trial with four other men accused of trying to blackmail Valbuena, who told the court on Wednesday that football was his life and it would have been ruined if the video
On Wednesday, Valbuena told his side of the story about the scandal that started when asked a man in Marseille, Axel Angot, to transfer the content of his mobile phone to another device.
Angot found sexually explicit material on the phone, and he and another defendant in the trial, Mustapha Zouaoui, are then accused of trying to blackmail Valbuena by threatening to make the tape public.
According to a report in BBC, Zouaoui told reporters he had shared the tape, but there had never been an attempt to extort money.
Valbuena described being approached by another defendant, Younes Houass, who then told the court the player was acting as if nothing was wrong and he had warned him of the seriousness of the issue, without asking for money.
Around this time Valbuena approached the police who set a trap and among those they secretly recorded the entire attempt.
Benzema got involved around this time after the defendants brought in Karim Zenati, who is a childhood friend of the Real Madrid striker.
Benzema is accused of speaking to Valneuna and trying to convince him to accede to the blackmail attempt. Benzema claims that he only tried to get Valbuena serious because of the importance of the tape. The BBC report said Benzema claimed he had merely tried to help his team-mate get rid of the compromising video, warning him: “Be careful, Math, they’re big, big thugs.”
He then offered to put him in touch with someone he could trust – his childhood friend, Karim Zenati.
The trial will continue until the end of the week, with four defendants facing charges of attempted blackmail and Benzema accused of complicity. The maximum sentence for complicity in attempted blackmail is five years in jail and a 75,000 fine.
Unlike Benzema, Mathieu Valbuena has never played for France since the sex-tape affair emerged. He now plays for Olympiacos in Greece.