Paris - French Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was placed
under formal judicial investigation on Thursday in connection with an alleged
attempt to blackmail fellow-France soccer international Mathieu Valbuena with
the use of a sex video.
A statement from the Versailles prosecutor said the alleged
crimes for which he was being investigated could carry a prison sentence of at
least five years.
Also read: Real forward Benzema injured on duty with France
His lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, told reporters after a hearing
that Benzema was innocent and took no part in any blackmail or attempted
The prosecutor's move, which in France's justice system does
not confirm any wrongdoing but does mean investigators have serious grounds for
pursuing the matter with him, exposes Benzema to a lengthy period of doubt
ahead of a European nations soccer contest that France hosts next year.For
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