Four years of proceedings and two international careers at a standstill: the investigation into the sextape blackmail case involving Karim Benzema was again challenged by the Madrilenian player's clan on Monday in the Court of Cassation.
Did the police use an unfair ploy to mount a case against the star striker of Real Madrid, suspected of having tried to blackmail his former teammate in blue Mathieu Valbuena?
This is the question that was addressed Monday the Court of Cassation met in plenary, supreme court in France, before deciding on December 9.
All goes back to June 2015, when Mathieu Valbuena solicits the police after receiving a call informing him of the existence of a video of a sexual nature on which it is clearly identifiable. The interlocutor threatens to make the document public.
A police officer will then take things in hand and pretend to be a negotiator sent by Valbuena. He will only have contact with Younes Houass, a football intermediary.
Karim Benzema will enter the file a few months later, in October, when he will discuss the existence of the video with Valbuena during a rally of the French team in Clairefontaine. A simple friendly conversation to warn him according to the Real attacker, indicted in November 2015, an order to pay according to the police and Mathieu Valbuena.
The intervention of undercover police officers in such cases is common, acknowledged Me Fabrice Spinosi, Karim Benzema's lawyer, but "the vice is in the zeal that will demonstrate this officer".
"He will take the lead of the exchanges by relaunching his contacts regularly," says the lawyer. While no more exchanges have taken place since June 8, "the officer alone takes the initiative to revive his contacts on July 15". Same thing in September when it is "urgent", evoking for the first time "a financial counterpart", while opposite, "the interlocutor expresses his will to put an end to exchanges" around the video.
– "No deception" –
Methods quite normal for the lawyer of Mathieu Valbuena, Me Frederic Thiriez. "The masters-singers use silence to scare their victims, he says, it is normal to restart them." "The investigator did his job as would, proportionately, a negotiator in the context of a kidnapping and sequestration case," adds Thiriez.
To put oneself to the arguments of the defense would be to "disarm the police" for which "it is not forbidden to be cunning", also adds the lawyer.
The Advocate General, Frédéric Desportes, followed this reasoning in his indictment: "If low blows are prohibited, the simple ruses of war are not" in matters of investigation, he said, asking the rejection appeal.
"Investigators can not be required to conduct their investigations in a transparent manner," he insisted, finding that there was "no deception on the essentials".
In addition, "the offense was already underway when the Commissioner intervened in the proceedings," said Mr. Desportes.
"Do not be fooled because I know it's time for repression," warned Fabrice Spinosi. It is "always easier to sue than to cancel a flawed procedure", especially in a case that "attracts national or even international media attention," he said. "The path of loyalty is difficult."
In July 2017, the Court of Cassation had given reason to Karim Benzema before the Paris Court of Appeal could resist, leading the Madrid striker to appeal in cassation.
The decision of December 9th will be the last one before a return of the case on the office of the judge of instruction.
If the appeal is dismissed, the prospect of Karim Benzema's trial will become a little more concrete. But if the court agrees, the case should stop there for him. Whatever happens, it has helped to deprive the current top scorer in the Spanish league of his place in the French team since November 2015.