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Karim Benzema must wait until November 24th to discover his fate following day three of his trial in Versailles.

According to The Mirroe, the 33-year-old Real Madrid star has been accused of complicity in an attempt to blackmail fellow footballer Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape found on his phone.

On the final day of hearings, his lawyers dismissed the charges against him, insisting that the prosecution have been driven by the media interest in the case, labelling it a “media-judicial circus”.

French prosecutors have called for Benzema to be handed a 10-month suspended sentence and £63k fine – having initially been seeking a potential prison sentence of five years.

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The trial began on Wednesday with Benzema, who did not attend any of the three days due to “professional obligations”, alleged to have acted as an intermediary between a group of alleged blackmailers and Valbuena, who was filmed in an intimate scenario.

The Real Madrid star – whose involvement saw him excluded from the France international setup from 2016 until earlier this year – was charged with encouraging Valbuena to match the demands of those blackmailing him and therefore an attempt to extort money from the player.

The affair began when Valbuena handed his smartphone to Axel Angot, with a request to transfer its contents to a new device. He came across sexually explicit footage which he and a friend, Mustapha Zouaoui, allegedly attempted to exploit with the help of intermediaries, including Benzema.

Valbuena stated he learned about the video leak from former teammate Djibril Cisse, once of Liverpool, who contacted him in May 2015 to tell him that compromising footage of him had emerged.

“Initially, I didn’t believe it, I thought they were bluffing,” said Valbuena. Cisse, himself previously been the victim of a similar blackmail attempt, then described the contents of the video, having received an extract via WhatsApp.

“I felt in danger, my first reflex was to file a criminal complaint,” Valbuena told the court. “I knew if the video came out things would be difficult for me in the French team, as was proven to be the case later.”

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Valbuena went to police after being approached by another defendant, Younes Houass; when the footballer went to the police, they set up a sting operation with an undercover agent named Luka, who was given the task of acting as his intermediary.

Karim Zenati, a childhood friend of Benzema, was then allegedly brought into the scam and is accused of involving Benzema, to act as a “middleman.”

Benzema has always denied the allegations, maintaining that he was only attempting to help Valbuena, having warned the former Marseille midfielder that he was dealing with “very, very heavy criminals” when the two were together at the French national team’s training centre at Clairefontaine, in October, 2015.

Benzema then called Zenati and told him, in a conversation wiretapped by police: “He’s not taking us seriously.”

Mr Zenati was claimed by police to have replied: “We’re here to sort it out; if he doesn’t want that he’ll have to deal with the piranhas.”

Prosecutors have argued that the word “us” proves that Benzema saw himself as part of the blackmail scheme.

Valbuena, now 37 and playing for Olympiacos in Greece, told the court that the exchange with Benzema left him “frightened”. Segolene Mares, the state prosecutor, told the court Benzema had “acted like a mafia godfather”.

However, Benzema’s lawyer, Antoine Vey, insisted on Friday that while the exchange did not show “an example of total contrition”, he added: “We never said he was being kind… but it is not a criminal offence.”

Giving evidence at the start of the trial, Valbuena said he had never considered handing over money to stop the video getting out.

Benzema had spent a night in jail in November 2015, before being charged with complicity in blackmail.

Another of his lawyers, Sylvain Cormier, stated in January that “the decision to bring him to trial is an absurd and unfair cruelty.”

On Wednesday he had claimed that Valbuena’s “jealousy” of his former teammate had been the driving force behind the case.

“His reasoning is simple: ‘Me, I was sidelined (from the team) and never brought back and declined in sporting terms, while there is Karim Benzema who is flying high in global football.’”

On Friday, he brutally attacked Valbuena once more, stating: “ He is a victim of his own attitude. He films a young woman who is engaging in a sexual activity with him. It is criminally reprehensible. This woman, no one has expressed the slightest remorse towards her.”

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Benzema’s legal team also claimed the prosecution had failed to provide evidence to convict the star of complicity in an attempt to blackmail, with Vey declaring: “One can ask what really interests French people in this case? Sex? Money? Football? Not the judicial element in any case.”

The French Football Federation were also represented, seeking a symbolic €1 in damages from any defendants found guilty of a crime.

Their lawyer argued that the incident negatively affected the FFF, both in terms of its image but also as authorities barred Valbuena and Benzema being able to meet – thus meaning they could no longer be selected by Les Bleus.

He added: “The French national team and its fixture list was used to try to get something out of this affair. The FFF must protect players from such things! This pollution made its way all the way to a room in Clairefontaine.”


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