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At the end of the third and last day of trial at the Versailles Criminal Court, Friday, the judgment was reserved. It will be returned on November 24.
Trial of the “Valbuena sextape affair”: the continuation but not yet the end! At the end of the last day of trial, Friday October 22, the president of the Versailles Criminal Court decided to put his judgment under advisement on November 24.
The day before, the prosecution had requested 10 months suspended prison sentence against Karim Benzema, star of Real Madrid and ex-teammate of Valbuena, alleged victim of blackmail around an intimate video and whose “feeling” was at the center defense lawyers’ pleadings.
“It’s never too late to practice law”
One of Benzema’s lawyers, Me Antoine Vey, criticized a “prosecution” against his client and demanded his release. “The intentional element of the offense” with which the 33-year-old striker is accused is not characterized, he insisted.
The case was built on the “feeling” of plaintiff Mathieu Valbuena, he argued, denouncing the “hypotheses and speculations” put forward by the prosecution.
“It is never too late to practice law, you are the last bulwark”, asked the court the other lawyer of Benzema, Me Sylvain Cormier.
Same argument for Me Tewfik Bouzenoune, adviser to the intermediary Younes Houass, who also regretted that it is “the feeling of the victim which conditions the criminal proceedings”.
In general, all the defense lawyers stigmatized a weak file, which in their eyes did not deserve such treatment from the prosecution and such echo in the press.
“One can wonder what really interests the French in this affair. The sex? The money? Football? Not the legal thing in any case”, asked Antoine Vey.
Another lawyer for the Real Madrid striker, Me Cormier, thundered against a “mediatico-judicial circus” during which “Karim Benzema was inflicted a sort of ‘American-style’ march of shame ‘” during of his appearance before the investigating judge in 2015.
“If we are in the orthodoxy of law, the release must be general,” said Me Serge Money, lawyer for Mustapha Zouaoui, the “linchpin” of the project.
“We would not have spent so much time on this file if it had not been for Karim Benzema”, had recognized Thursday during the requisitions the prosecutor Julien Eyraud.
At his side, the other prosecutor, Ségolène Marés, had estimated that the eavesdropping proved that the star of Real Madrid “is included in this team and is associated in this project” of attempt of blackmail around an intimate video.
She was referring to a phone conversation between Benzema and her childhood friend Karim Zenati, in which both made fun of Valbuena. “He does not take us seriously,” explains Benzema, who has just spoken to Valbuena.
The star of Real Madrid, candidate displayed for the Golden Ball which will be awarded on November 29, was at that time “not in the most absolute contrition”, admitted Friday his lawyer Antoine Vey.
“We never said he was benevolent (…) but it is not a criminal offense”, he developed.
In addition to the ten months suspended prison sentence, the prosecution requested a fine of 75,000 euros against the striker of the France team, candidate for the Ballon d’Or and absent from the trial.
An absence which does not constitute “a legal strategy”, supported Me Vey Friday, highlighting the “sporting pressure” around his client, who played a match in Ukraine on Tuesday evening and must prepare for Sunday’s Clasico against FC Barcelona.
Coach Didier Deschamps is counting on him more than ever for the World Cup in November and December 2022 in Qatar, where the French will defend their title.
When asked whether Benzema’s international future was conditioned on his trial, the Blues boss answered evasively in early October. “If I answer that and tell you yes, that means that before, it could have been … I make sporting choices”, he declared before the League of Nations, won by Benzema and the Blues.
Didier Deschamps could provide part of the answer on November 4, when he unveils his next list to face Kazakhstan on November 13 and Finland on November 16, in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
Against the four other defendants in this case, which revolve around the world of football and constitute “a real skewer of actors”, in the words of the prosecutor Julien Eyraud, the public prosecutor requested sentences ranging from 18 months suspended to four years from prison.