After years of legal battle, the case of “sextape” blackmail exercised over French international footballer Mathieu Valbuena is accelerating. According to information from World, the Versailles public prosecutor’s office (Yvelines) asked on 1is July, in his final indictment, the referral to the criminal court of Karim Benzema for “complicity in attempted blackmail”. In November 2015, the Real Madrid striker was indicted on this count as well as for “participation in a criminal association”. “These are artificial and unfair pursuits”, reacts Me Sylvain Cormier, lawyer for Mr. Benzema.
In addition, the Versailles prosecution also requests the dismissal of a childhood friend of Mr. Benzema, Karim Zenati, of Mustapha Zouaoui, one of the alleged blackmailers, for “attempted blackmail in recidivism”, as well as two other alleged blackmailers, Axel Angot and Younes Houass, for “attempted blackmail”.
However, the prosecution does not request the dismissal of the former French international attacker Djibril Cissé, placed in police custody in October 2015 and then indicted in 2017 for “complicity in attempted blackmail”. Mr. Cissé had informed Mr. Valbuena of the existence of the intimate video showing him with his partner.
“This indictment can only satisfy me. It seems to me to draw the just and legitimate consequences from the work of the investigating magistrates and clearly establishes the facts alleged against each other ”, consider Me Paul-Albert Iweins, Mathieu Valbuena’s lawyer.
In June 2015, Mr. Valbuena filed a complaint after being contacted by an individual who offered to find him an arrangement in exchange for the non-disclosure of a “sextape”. A commissioner of the judicial police is then charged by the Versailles prosecutor to act as intermediaries to identify the alleged blackmailers – Axel Angot, Mustapha Zouaoui and Younes Houass – and to arrest them. Under the pseudonym of “Lukas”, he will multiply the exchanges with the alleged criminals.
Ban of the Blues
Six telephone conversations were recorded by the police between June and October 2015. They identified Karim Zenati, a childhood friend of Karim Benzema. Mr. Zenati was taken into police custody on November 2, 2015, then placed under investigation. He would have been charged by the blackmailers to contact the striker of the France team so that the latter evokes the “sextape” with his teammate in selection.
Three days later, Karim Benzema is put under investigation and placed under judicial control: he is suspected by the investigators of having put pressure on Mathieu Valbuena, in October 2015, during a rally of the Blues in Clairefontaine (Yvelines), in order that the latter find an arrangement with the blackmailers.
This judicial turning point had prompted Noël Le Graët, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF), to temporarily suspend Karim Benzema from the selection, in December 2015. The body then came to bring civil action in this case.
In agreement with the coach, Didier Deschamps, the boss of the FFF had decided, in April 2016, that the Real Madrid player would not compete in the Euro, organized in France. Since his indictment, the striker of Merengue has never been called back to the French team.
In November 2019, Mr. Le Graët relaunched the case by ensuring that “Adventure” of Karim Benzema with the French team was “Finished”. “Know that it is I and I alone who will put an end to my international career”, replied the interested party on his Twitter account.
Long legal battle
In addition to these sporting issues, the case had given rise to a long legal battle. On July 11, 2017, the criminal chamber of the Court of Cassation won the case at Camp Benzema. Its judgment overturned a decision of the Versailles Court of Appeal which had validated the procedure. The attacker’s lawyers questioned the role of “Lukas”, who allegedly participated “Too active at the commission of the facts” and so “Incited the offense”.
However, in November 2018, the Paris Court of Appeal validated the investigation. It dismissed the motion for a declaration of invalidity filed by MM. Benzema, Houass and Zenati. The trio then appealed to the Court of Cassation.
On December 9, 2019, the Court of Cassation, meeting in plenary assembly, had validated the current procedure. She notably examined the actions of a commissioner of the regional direction of the judicial police of Versailles, designated by the prosecution to negotiate with the alleged blackmailers of Mathieu Valbuena. The nineteen magistrates considered that the police scheme put in place during the investigation was fair. After the final indictment of the Versailles prosecution, the investigating judge must now make the closure order before the criminal court.