Le­gal lift for Ben­zema

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

PARIS — France’s high­est court has ruled that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Real Madrid for­ward Karim Ben­zema in a black­mail case, linked to a sex tape in­volv­ing his France team­mate Mathieu Val­buena, was un­fairly car­ried out by pros­e­cu­tors.

Ben­zema faces pre­lim­i­nary charges of con­spir­acy and com­plic­ity in an at­tempted black­mail scheme to ex­tort money from ex-Lyon mid­fielder Val­buena, now with Turk­ish side Fener­bahce, in ex­change for the footage.

Ben­zema de­nies any wrong­do­ing.

The Cour de Cas­sa­tion didn’t clear Ben­zema, but it ruled that in­ves­ti­ga­tors had bro­ken rules and used un­fair meth­ods to try to prove the ex­is­tence of a black­mail scam.

It noted that, act­ing on the in­struc­tions of the prose­cu­tor, an in­ves­ti­ga­tor had posed as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Val­buena and, us­ing a pseu­do­nym, prompted the hold­ers of the sex tape to try to claim money from the player.

As a re­sult of the rul­ing, the whole in­ves­ti­ga­tion against Ben­zema could be an­nulled. The court or­dered the case be re­ferred to a dif­fer­ent, lower court which will now have to rule on the case, in ac­cor­dance with its de­ci­sion.

Ben­zema’s lawyer, Pa­trice Spinosi, wel­comed the rul­ing.

“The case is not over, but the new ap­peals court should log­i­cally rule that the whole pro­ceed­ings were un­fair and bring down al­most all the case, at least cer­tainly for Karim Ben­zema,” Spinosi said.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors who charged Ben­zema be­lieve he was ap­proached by a child­hood friend in 2015 to act as an in­ter­me­di­ary and con­vince Val­buena to deal di­rectly with the black­mail­ers.

In­stead, Val­buena in­formed the po­lice. After he re­fused to con­duct the ne­go­ti­a­tions him­self, in­ves­ti­ga­tors had the idea of set­ting a trap for the sex-tape hold­ers.

The fil­ing of pre­lim­i­nary charges against Ben­zema led French soc­cer of­fi­cials to leave him off of their squad for last year’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship — which was staged in France — in the in­ter­ests of team har­mony and avoid­ing a me­dia cir­cus.

Karim Ben­zema

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