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
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
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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