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Real Madrid's Benzema 'admits role' in sex tape blackmail scheme

AFP/The Local · 5 Nov 2015, 10:57

Published: 05 Nov 2015 10:57 GMT+01:00

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Karim Benzema, 27, was driven away from the police station in Versailles outside Paris in a police car with tinted windows, AFP journalists saw.

"Karim Benzema has been taken to the court to appear before an investigating magistrate who will decide what happens next in the procedure," the prosecutor's office said.

According to BFM TV, French prosecutors have asked that Benzema be charged and placed under judicial control.    

Investigators are trying to determine the extent of Benzema's involvement in an attempt to extort money from Valbuena after a sex tape found its way into the hands of suspected blackmailers.

Benzema was kept overnight by police in Versailles. Photo: AFP
According to an investigation source, Benzema mentioned the video to Valbuena when the French national team met for training last month, ahead of matches against Armenia and Denmark.
Benzema's lawyer said he had played "no part" in the plot and was keen to clear his name.
"Karim Benzema has absolutely nothing to hide," said lawyer Sylvain Cormier.
"He is happy, satisfied even, to finally put an end to this tiresome controversy."
The centre-forward is a key part of the French national team with 27 goals in 81 appearances and is one of the biggest names in the star-studded Real Madrid squad.
Past controversies
It is not the first time the French striker has been embroiled in a police investigation.
Benzema, call girl Zahia Dehar and Ribery. Photo: AFP
Both men were finally cleared of wrongdoing five years later, by which time Dehar had become a reality TV star and fashion designer.
The blackmail case began in June, when Valbuena lodged a complaint with police after being telephoned by an unknown person who said he had the sex tape.
The caller did not specify a sum of money but said they should come to an arrangement.
Police then took over, posing as Valbuena's business associate in later calls with the blackmailers, who threatened to release the video ahead of the 2016 European Championship, which France is hosting.
The investigation led them to three men, including one who was a close member of Valbuena's entourage and who had direct access to the footballer's phone containing the sex tape.

Benzema is one of Real Madrid's star players. Photo: AFP
Two of the group are also said to have ties to Djibril Cisse, another French international and a former teammate of Valbuena at Marseilles, and successfully made him pay up for a sex tape in 2008.
The group used Cisse to authenticate the sex tape, the judicial source said, leading him to warn Valbuena that a video was circulating.
Cisse was detained for questioning last month but was quickly released without charge.
In a bid to speed up the negotiations, the blackmailers contacted a friend of Benzema's brother in Lyon, a man already known to police.
The friend was detained in relation to the blackmail case on Monday and was due to appear before a judge later Wednesday in Lyon.
Story continues below…
Blackmail carries a potential prison sentence of five years.
Benzema, 27, is one of Real Madrid's star players alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and has a good reputation with managers and fellow players.
He started his career in his home town of Lyon, the club Valbuela joined this summer.
On Thursday France national coach Didier Deschamps is due to name his squad for upcoming internationals against Germany and England. The names of both Benzema and Valbuena would normally be expected to appear on the list.

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AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

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