AceShowbiz - Karim Benzema is about to spend one year behind bars. The Real Madrid striker was handed a 12-month prison sentence for his part in the attempted sex tape blackmail of his former teammate Mathieu Valbuena six years ago.
On Wednesday, 24 November, a court in Versailles, France found the 33-year-old forward "complicit" in the case. He was then sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros (approximately $84,170).
Karim, who previously denied any involvement, was also ordered to pay Mathieu 80,000 euros (approximately $89,604) to cover legal costs. Karim has to pay Mathieu 150,000 euros (approximately $168,000) in damages as well.
"This outcome in no way corresponds with the reality of events," Karim's attorney Antoine Vey said of the judgment. Following the judge's decision, it's reported that the athlete's legal team will appeal the verdict.
Antoine went on to say, "[Karim] will come to explain himself before the court of appeal." He added, "[Karim] was absent from the trial for professional reasons, the fact that he was absent had an influence in the judgment. This conviction is unfounded."
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 behind bars. According to prosecutors, Axel discovered a sexually explicit video on Mathieu's phone which prompted him and Mustapha to use it as blackmail to extract payment.
As for Karim, he was allegedly a middleman encouraging Mathieu to pay the blackmailers to prevent them from making the tape public. Soon after the scandal broke, Karim 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.
Mathieu's lawyer, Didier Domat, said he was pleased with the outcome of the trial. He stated that 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."