Karim Benzema’s lawyers have called for charges against him over an attempt to blackmail fellow player Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape to be dismissed, saying the prosecution had been driven by media interest in the case.
A verdict in the trial will be announced on November 24. On the last day of hearings, being held in Versailles outside Paris, Benzema’s lawyers claimed the prosecution had failed to provide evidence to convict the star of complicity in an attempt to blackmail. ‘One can ask what really interests French people in this case? Sex? Money? Football? Not the judicial element in any case,’ lawyer Antoine Vey told the court, adding that the prosecution’s case had been built around Valbuena’s ‘feelings’.
Addressing the judge, he added: ‘It’s never too late to do some law. You are the final safeguard.’Benzema’s other lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, criticised a ‘media-judicial circus’.The prosecution demanded a 10-month suspended sentence on Thursday and a fine of 75,000 euros (£63,352) for the 33-year-old France international, who has not appeared during the three days of hearings which began on Wednesday.
Benzema, who is expected to play this weekend against Barcelona in the Clasico, is one of five people on trial over the 2015 extortion attempt over a sexually explicit video that was stolen from Valbuena’s phone.Testifying on the opening day of the trial Wednesday, Valbuena said the affair – which saw him and Benzema excluded from the national team – had left him feeling ‘frightened’ and fearful for his career.