By Ben Church, Xiaofei Xu and Meredith Ruleman CNN
Soccer star Karim Benzema has been handed a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined 75,000 euros ($84,000) over his involvement in the attempted blackmail against former French national teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape, the Olympiacos player’s lawyer confirmed to CNN.
The court went further than the prosecutor in its ruling on Wednesday, which only requested a 10-month suspended prison sentence against Benzema.
“It was clearly announced by the court that Karim Benzema was not aware of the prior machinations and then in the end they said that ‘he cannot, not have known,’ without any proof,” one of Benzema’s lawyers Sylvain Cormier said outside of the courtroom after the verdict came in.
“They have condemned him with a very severe, unjust sentence without proof. I’m quite shocked by this ruling.”
Benzema’s legal team said the 33-year player would be cleared “in the court of appeal.”
“We will of course appeal because Karim Benzema did nothing wrong in this affair,” Cormier said.
Valbuena’s lawyer Paul Albert Iweins declined to comment on Benzema’s sentence.
The case relates to the existence of a sex tape which features Valbuena, who currently plays for Greek club Olympiacos.
Benzema had been accused of pressuring Valbuena, who played alongside the Real Madrid star on the French national team, to pay blackmailers to prevent the video from becoming public.
The 33-year-old, who is currently the top goal scorer in La Liga, was initially suspended by the French national team due to the case but had returned for Euro 2020.
Neither Real Madrid nor the French Football Federation were immediately available for comment when asked by CNN.
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