KARIM Benzema was found guilty today over a sex tape blackmail plot targeting his former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
But the Real Madrid ace, 33, dodged jail as he was handed a one-year suspended sentence by a court in Versailles, near Paris .
Karim Benzema was found guilty of complicity in a sex tape blackmail plot[/caption]
Benzema was convicted of helping friends blackmail his France teammate Mathieu Valbuena[/caption]
He was also fined £63,000 after being convicted of complicity in the blackmail plot.
Prosecutors said Benzema was working with a gang to convince former France midfielder Valbuena, now 37, to hand over cash.
Four co-accused – all old friends of Benzema’s – were found guilty of attempted blackmail.
They are said to have tried to humiliate Valbuena by threatening to publish an X-rated video of him with a partner.
The court heard they used Benzema as an intermediary.
The star’s lawyer Sylvain Cormier said he was “quite stunned by the ruling” outside court today.
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His defence team said he will appeal the verdict – which is not likely to affect his immediate footballing future.
French federation president Noel Le Great has already said Benzema would be allowed to keep playing for Les Bleus even if found guilty.
And he is on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or world player of the year gong which will be announced on November 29.
The forward, who had denied any wrongdoing, was not in court.
He is due to play for Spanish giants Real in their Champions League tie against Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol this evening.
He also swerved his trial last month, choosing instead to train with his club ahead of their El Clasico clash with Barcelona.
The case rocked French football after initial charges were brought in 2015.
Benzema was exiled from the national team for five years, meaning he missed the 2016 European Championship, and also the 2018 World Cup which France won.
He only returned to the fold this year in time for the delayed Euros tournament – where they crashed out on penalties in the Round of 16.
Benzema, often rated one of the world’s best players, had called the allegations “absurd”.
Ex-Marseille midfielder Valbuena – who won 52 caps for France – was also dropped in the wake of the bombshell case.
He first lodged a complaint with cops in June 2015 after being phoned by an unknown person about the sex tape.
Police then posed as friends of Valbuena, luring three blackmailers into a trap before arresting them.
Two of the group had ties to Djibril Cisse, the former Liverpool player, who was originally arrested in relation to the case but then released.
In 2014, Benzema was cleared on all charges during an underage sex trial in Paris, in which his co-defendant was the former France winger Franck Ribery.
Both players denied knowingly paying for sex with Zahia Dehar when she was under 18.
Valbuena and Benzema were both dropped from the France team in the wake of the blackmail allegations[/caption]
Benzema is on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or after an impressive year with Real Madrid[/caption]
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