Karim Benzema was not present for the opening of the three-day blackmail trial that began in Versailles on Wednesday, according to MARCA.
The 33-year-old Real Madrid striker faces allegations of complicity in blackmailing over a sex tape involving former French international teammate Mathieu Valbuena. If found guilty, Benzema could face up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000.
Benzema’s legal team reportedly told the French court that the player had prior professional obligations that could not be missed. Benzema started in Real Madrid’s match against Shakhtar Donetsk in Kyiv on Tuesday evening.
Valbuena alleges that he and Benzema had an argument at the French national team’s training academy in Clairefontaine. He claims that Benzema was insistent about turning to their friend Karim Zenati for assistance.
“I was afraid for my sporting career, for the France national team. I knew that if the video came out, it would be complicated for me in the France national team. I felt in danger, my first instinct was to file a complaint.”
Valbuena claims there was no money asked for during the blackmailing process and voiced his concern with Benzema not being present.
“There was never talk of a sum of money, but there was a threat from people who told me that they had something on me.”
“Benzema is not here. It’s a pity, but that’s the way it is. I’ll go all the way to the end to put it all behind me.”
One of the accused persons in the trial backed up Valbuena’s claims that there was no money asked for during the blackmail, according to BFMTV (via MARCA). He also claimed that others in addition to Benzema saw the video.
“I saw the video, we laughed at it. I passed it on to everyone, not just Benzema.”
“Djibril Cisse was in it. Many players from the France team have seen the video. There was no blackmail, we didn’t ask for money.”
Valbuena’s lawyer made his displeasure known with Benzema’s non-attendance to the opening day of the trial.
“It is terrible that Benzema has not shown up for the trial. We have been waiting five years for a trial with Valbuena. We think Benzema is afraid of it.”
The three-day trial will come to a conclusion on Friday. There is no word yet if Benzema plans to be present for the remaining days of the trial.