France star Benzema found guilty in sex tape extortion scandal
Karim Benzema was given a one-year suspended jail sentence and fined €75,000 (£63,000) on Wednesday after being found guilty for his involvement in the highly publicized sex tape scandal in France.
Benzema's lawyer says he will immediately appeal the verdict, adding that the sentence was "unfair and based on no proof," according to The Guardian's Angelique Chrisafis. The French striker has consistently denied his involvement.
Police opened an investigation in July 2015 after an unknown caller contacted Valbuena, who currently plays in Greece for Olympiacos, claiming to have a sex tape featuring the 37-year-old.
Benzema's participation occurred when the two players were at a French training camp shortly after Valbuena received the anonymous call. Benzema allegedly pressured Valbuena to pay the blackmailers, who were eager to arrange a meeting to collect money in return for the mobile phone video.
The 33-year-old's lawyer argued that his client was simply trying to help his teammate by suggesting a solution.
However, the court found that Benzema acted "with a certain excitement, even jubilation" instead of showing empathy toward his teammate.
The fallout from the incident resulted in both players losing their places in the French national team. Benzema's five-year exile ended earlier this year when he made a surprise return to the squad ahead of Euro 2020.
Four other co-defendants in the case - one of which was a childhood friend of the Real Madrid star - were also found guilty for their roles in the extortion scandal. The court gave the group sentences ranging from 18 months suspended to two-and-a-half years in prison.