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France int’l Valbuena appears before judge in sex tape probe

20 November 2015, 15:07

Versailles - Mathieu Valbuena, the victim of a sex tape blackmail attempt, over which fellow France international Karim Benzema has been charged, appeared before a judge investigating the affair on Friday, judicial sources confirmed.

The hearing began around 0930 GMT on Friday morning in a court in Versailles, on the outskirts of Paris, hours before Valbuena was due to play for his French club Lyon against Nice.

Judge Nathalie Boutard will question the 31-year-old player notably concerning a conversation he had with Benzema on October 5 at the France national training centre in Clairefontaine, outside Paris.

The enquiry will bid to determine whether 27-year-old Real Madrid striker Benzema acted as a friend or a blackmailer during the conversation.

A source close to the investigation has said Benzema has admitted approaching Valbuena about the tape on behalf of a "childhood friend", Karim Zenati, who himself had been contacted by blackmailers in possession of the tape.

Also read: 'No animosity' from Valbuena towards Benzema - lawyer

But Benzema's lawyer said the player was innocent and "has admitted nothing at all".

Investigators have recordings of a telephone conversation on October 6 with Zenati during which Benzema tells his friend about his conversation with Valbuena the previous day.

"I did have a conversation with Zenati on the way to approach the subject with Mathieu Valbuena ... but without a second thought," Benzema told investigators.

"That Karim Zenati benefited from it wasn't my aim, I didn't think about it, I'm frankly shocked, I feel stupid when I see that."

Both players were left out of the France squad for the recent friendly matches against Germany -- which was disrupted by suicide attackers outside the Stade de France last Friday -- and the game against England at Wembley on Tuesday.

The blackmail case began in June, when Valbuena lodged a complaint with police after being telephoned by an unknown person who said he had the sex tape in his possession.

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