Madrid forward Benzema absent for blackmail trial in France

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Versailles, France

The trial of French soccer player KarimBenzema and four others began Wednesday outside Paris, without the Real Madrid forward in attendance.

Benzema, who played in Kyiv on Tuesday against Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, is accused of being involved in an attempt in 2015 to blackmail France teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

Benzema’s legal team told the court in Versailles that his obligations as a player made it “impossible” for him to attend the first day of the trial, which is scheduled to last through Friday. Valbuena was in court on Wednesday.

He testified that Benzema spoke to him about the sex tape, telling him “there’s a video, it’s hot,” when they were together at France’s Clairefontaine training camp in October 2015. Benzema also said that he had a good friend who could help and “can solve your problem,” Valbuena testified.

Although Benzema “never spoke to me about money,” Valbuena said he understood that he would have to pay for the friend’s assistance. “It wasn’t for football tickets.

That’s never done for free,” Valbuena testified. He said the conversation left him “really frightened.—Agencies

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