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Karim Benzema bags one year suspended jail term over sextape case

Karim Benzema, a striker for France and Real Madrid, has been found guilty of conspiring to blackmail a fellow French footballer with a sex tape.

A judge sentenced Benzema to one year in prison with a one-year suspension and ordered him to pay a €75,000 (£63,000; $84,000) fine.

Benzema, 33, was one of five people charged last month in connection with an extortion attempt on Frenchman Mathieu Valbuena.

The scandal stunned the French football community, and both players were stripped of their national team spots.

I hope someday I’d win awards like Zidane and Ronaldo – Benzema

The case began in June 2015, when the two footballers were attending a training camp in France.

Prosecutors claim that at the camp, Benzema put pressure on Valbuena to pay off the blackmailers with whom he had conspired to act as an intermediary.

Benzema has always denied the allegations, claiming he was only attempting to assist Valbuena in removing the compromising video.

Benzema has since returned to the France team and is expected to start for Real Madrid against FC Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Benzema and Valbuena, both of whom play for the Greek club Olympiakos, were not present in court in Versailles for the verdict.

On Wednesday, four of Benzema’s co-defendants in the trial were also found guilty. They were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 months suspension to two and a half years.

Benzema’s attorneys have stated that he will appeal his conviction. “Ultimately, the reaction is an angry one to this judgment, which is completely contradictory,” his lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, told reporters outside court.

However, the judge stated in his verdict that Benzema “implicated himself personally, through subterfuge and lies, to convince his teammate to submit to the blackmail.”

Benzema made a surprise return to the French national team in May, five years after he was exiled from the team following the first allegations in 2015.

However, the French football federation stated last month that a guilty verdict would not necessarily jeopardize Benzema’s place in the national team.

Benzema has been in excellent form since being recalled by France manager Didier Deschamps, scoring nine goals in 13 games for his country.

He has also scored 10 goals for his club, Real Madrid, which has yet to comment on the verdict.

Benzema has been named a candidate for the Ballon d’Or footballer of the year award, which will be announced next week.

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