Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema was found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of a fellow France player over a sex tape, but cleared of the more serious charges of attempting to blackmail his teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The verdict was announced at a Paris court on Tuesday by the judge, without further remarks. The prosecution had demanded that Benzema face up to three years in prison for complicity, and up to four years in prison for complicity to blackmail. But, as in the ongoing Valbuena case, Benzema was given a suspended one-year prison sentence and banned from associating with the accused.
Benzema had been charged with complicity in the March 2015 blackmail case involving former national teammate Valbuena. Benzema has maintained his innocence in both cases.
One of his lawyers said Benzema wanted to appeal.
“He’s obviously shocked,” lawyer Benoit Vraaure said. “He did not know that the court would adopt these conclusions.”
Benzema and Valbuena have been in frequent contact during this scandal, and the former has often compared their difficulties in France to their international careers.
Benzema was questioned in Valbuena’s case too, but authorities said he provided incorrect information about the events surrounding the suspected blackmail.
Benzema’s lawyers had argued that his testimony would have been inadmissible since the case was in the hands of the investigating judge.
The 30-year-old Benzema joined Real Madrid last summer, signing a five-year contract after Madrid’s power was reversed and Florentino Perez relinquished the right to choose the club’s star players to UEFA.
He is currently third in the scoring chart in La Liga with 12 goals in 25 matches so far this season.