Soccer Star Karim Benzema Found Guilty in Sex Tape Scandal, Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison

Karim Benzema, who was found "complicit" in the case, was also fined approximately $84,000

Karim Benzama
Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was found guilty in a sex tape-blackmail scandal that rocked the professional soccer world in 2015.

On Wednesday, a court in Versailles, France, found the 33-year-old forward "complicit" in the case. Benzema was handed a 12-month prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros (approximately $84,170) for his part in the attempted blackmail of his former teammate Mathieu Valbuena six years ago.

"This outcome in no way corresponds with the reality of events," Benzema's lawyer Antoine Vey said of the judgment, according to Reuters, which noted that Benzema's lawyers will appeal the verdict.

Vey added, "Benzema will come to explain himself before the court of appeal. 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."

The athlete, who previously denied any involvement, was also ordered to pay 37-year-old Valbuena 80,000 euros (approximately $89,604) to cover legal costs and 150,000 euros (approximately $168,000) in damages, Reuters reported.

Valbuena's lawyer, Didier Domat, said he was pleased with the outcome of the trial, saying his client, who is a midfielder for the Greek team Olympiakos, "has suffered sports prejudices that are difficult to repair. We are satisfied that his status as a victim has been recognized."

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Axel Angot, Mustapha Zouaoui, Younes Houass and Karim Zenati — the four other men said to be involved — were also found guilty and sentenced to 15 to 24 months.

According to prosecutors, Angot stumbled upon a sexually explicit video on Valbuena's phone, which allegedly prompted him and Zouaoui in an attempt to coerce payment as blackmail. Benzema was allegedly a middleman encouraging Valbuena to pay the blackmailers to prevent them from making the tape public.

Soon after the scandal broke, Benzema was dropped from the French national team, putting his career on hold. However, earlier this year, he returned to the field to play for Les Bleus.

NPR reported that it's unknown if the guilty verdict will result in Benzema being cut from the French national team again.

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