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Karim Benzema faces potential five-year prison sentence

Footballer Karim Benzema faces being handed a potential five-year prison sentence as his sex-tape trial gets underway on Wednesday.

The Real Madrid striker faces charges of complicity in blackmail with prosecutors hoping to see the player found guilty and do time behind bars.

The charges relate to allegations over the 33-year-old’s complicity in the blackmail of his former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena in a case known as the “sex-tape affair”, with Benzema labelling the charges as absurd.

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Four other men are also on trial, which is set to last three days.

Benzema is alleged to have acted as an intermediary between a group of alleged blackmailers and Valbuena, who was filmed getting intimate.

The Madrid striker is charged with encouraging his then-international teammate to match the demands of those blackmailing him and consequently an attempt to force money from the player.

Valbuena refused the alleged request, and both players were subsequently excluded from the France international setup in 2016 – with Benzema only returning to the international team earlier this year.

Benzema is now due for trial in the Court of Versailles this week into the events with prosecutors asking for up to five years in prison for the striker alongside a potential fine of £63k if he is found guilty.

The player’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, told the Efe agency in January, via Marca: “The decision to bring him to trial is an absurd and unfair cruelty.

“Benzema has nothing to reproach himself with in this summary.”

Karim Benzema Reveals How He Felt Whilst Being Detained in Jail in New TV  Documentary | 90min

The player’s lawyers haven’t been able to confirm whether the player will be present at the hearing, due to the busy schedule he faced with Real Madrid playing a vital Champions League group stage game away against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday before facing Barcelona in El Clasico on Sunday.

Valbuena, who now plays for Greek outfit Olympiakos, is set to be present at the proceedings, his lawyer has claimed.

Benzema has already spent one night in a Versailles jail back in November 2015 before being charged with complicity in blackmail and a separate charge of association with criminals – the latter charge that was not upheld by the prosecution.

As reported by Marca, Valbuena questioned Axel Angot – known among footballers for his ability to fix technical problems on computers and phones – to rescue the data from a broken mobile phone.

It is detailed that the video was then transferred onto Angot’s computer with it claimed that he then allegedly conspired to come up with a plan to obtain compensation from Valbuena.

It was alleged that they initially went through Valbuena’s then-Marseille teammate Djibril Cisse – who was initially charged in the case, but was later cleared – who instead warned Valbuena of what was happening.

It was at this point that Angot – who is now on trial for a breach of trust – allegedly got in contact with Karim Zenati, a childhood friend of Benzema.

Prosecutors claim Zenati enlisted Benzema’s help to reach Valbuena with the two French teammates then speaking about the situation at a hotel in October 2015.

Benzema is alleged to have told Valbuena that he could introduce him to a “trustworthy person” that would assist him to “manage” the possible publication of a compromising video.

Benzema is the said to have claimed: “Be careful ‘Math’, these are very, very heavy criminals.”

Here is a video report from back in 2015 when this scandal first came about…

Benzema then reportedly called his friend Zenati to say of Valbuena that he was “not taking us seriously”, which prosecutors allege show his complicity in the blackmailing due to his alleged use of the word ‘us’.

Zenati allegedly replied: “If he doesn’t want us to handle this for him, he’ll have to deal with the piranhas,” as both reportedly say they just wanted to alert Valbuena to how serious the situation was.

Police are said to have used an undercover agent known as “Luka” to help get proof in bringing the case to court.

The timing of the trial comes as Benzema is in the best form of his career on the pitch and is one of the leading contenders for the Ballon d’Or awards this year.

Benzema explained in an interview with Diario AS: “Since I was little, I have had the dream of winning the Ballon d’Or, which is the dream that all footballers have.

“Of course, I am going to do everything possible and I am going to work as hard as possible to have that great trophy, to hopefully win it one day and fulfil that dream that I have had since I was a child.”

As most fans saw, Benzema helped France to winning the Nations League earlier this month having been restored to Didier Deschamps’s squad ahead of Euro 2020.

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