MADRID – Karim Benzema has been found guilty of complicity in the attempt to blackmail his former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The Versailles court has sentenced the Real Madrid striker to one year in suspended prison that he will have to serve in the event of a repeat offense and to pay a fine of $ 84,000.
However, the lawyer for the French international has already announced that they will appeal the sentence.
“We are quite stunned by this ruling. The appeal is necessary,” said the player’s lawyer after leaving the hearing this morning.
The court ruled that Benzema did not realize the criminal nature of his actions, so the footballer will not go to prison. However, the resolution describes the intervention of the French international as “deliberate”.
The “Valbuena case” began in 2015. Benzema, at the request of a personal friend, intervened to get Valbuena to pay a financial sum after his friend was contacted by two alleged blackmailers. They had a video with sexual content of Valbuena and demanded money from Benzema’s former teammate to prevent its dissemination.
The Madrid forward’s lawyers have confirmed that they will appeal the verdict: “The court clearly indicated that Benzema was not aware of the preliminary maneuvers. We are quite stunned by this ruling. The appeal is necessary.”
Benzema was separated from the French team for more than five years due to the Valbuena case but Didier Deschamps lifted his punishment last season so that he could play the European Championship.
The president of the French Federation already announced three weeks ago that the ruling would not condition Benzema’s present and future participation with France. Thus, the forward, who has scored 9 goals in the 11 games played to date, will be able to play in the Qatar 2022 World Cup if Deschamps considers it appropriate.
The decision of the Court of Versailles also ruled on the rest of the defendants in the case. Zenati, who was the only repeat offender, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison, modifiable, and a fine of € 300,000. Houass, for his part, has received 18 months in suspended prison. Angot has been sentenced to two years in prison and a sentence that will also be modified, and Zouaoui, Benzema’s friend used in the blackmail of Valbuena, will be in jail for two and a half years with a sentence that will not be modifiable.