Benzema gets one-year suspended sentence in sex-tape case
VERSAILLES, France (AP):
France and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema was given a one-year suspended jail sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros ($84,000) today in a sex-tape case that rocked French soccer and put the talented striker's international career on hold for more than five years.
Benzema was found guilty of being involved in an attempt in 2015 to blackmail France teammate Mathieu Valbuena. In addition to the fine, Benzema was ordered to pay Valbuena 80,000 euros ($89,700) in damages.
Benzema's lawyers said he will appeal.
Benzema was charged with complicity in the blackmail attempt over a sex tape thought to have been stolen from Valbuena's mobile phone.
The Versailles court decision is unlikely to affect Benzema's immediate sporting future. The forward is regarded as one of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or award on November 29 in Paris following an impressive season with Madrid. French federation president Noel Le Great has already said Benzema would be allowed to keep playing with France even if found guilty.
Benzema is in Madrid's squad for their Champions League group stage game at Moldova champions Sheriff later today.
Benzema, who denied wrongdoing, did not attend the trial in Versailles last month and was absent for the verdict. The four other defendants were also found guilty on charges of attempted blackmail and did not appear at the court today.
"Benzema will come to explain himself before the court of appeal," said Antoine Vey, one of the player's lawyers. "He was absent from the trial for professional reasons, the fact that he was absent had an influence in the judgment. This conviction is unfounded."
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