Karim Benzema has been sentenced to a year in prison with a one-year suspension and fined €75,000 for his role in the attempted sex tape blackmail of former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The court imposed a harsher punishment on Benzema than the prosecution requested, with Valbuena's defense team demanding only a 10-month suspended sentence. Benzema's lawyer, despite everything, maintained his client's innocence and indicated an appeal will be made.
"It was clearly announced by the court that Karim Benzema was not aware of the prior machinations and then in the end they said that 'he cannot, not have known,' without any proof," said Benzema's lawyer following the verdict.
"They have condemned him with a very severe, unjust sentence without proof. We will of course appeal because Karim Benzema did nothing wrong in this affair."
What's a suspended sentence?
As things stand, Benzema will serve no jail time, as a 'suspended sentence' means the player will only do time in prison if he is convicted of pertinent offenses during the 12-month sentencing period.
The issue began in 2015 when Valbuena ordered Axel Angot of Marseille to transfer the contents of his mobile phone to a new device. Angot discovered sexually explicit content on the phone and sought to blackmail Valbuena by threatening to publicize the content.
Benzema has been found guilty of pressuring Valbuena – who is currently a member of Greek club Olympiakos – to pay the blackmailers for whom he functioned as an intermediary. Benzema was eventually one of five guys tried in connection with the scandal.
Benzema has consistently disputed the charges, claiming he was merely attempting to assist Valbuena in removing the damaging film. He and Valbuena were not present at the Versailles trial.
The 33-year-old is now La Liga's leading scorer, with ten goals in 12 matches. He is set to start tonight's Champions League match against FC Sheriff.