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Benzema gets one-year suspended prison sentence for sex tape blackmail

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been given a one-year suspended sentence for complicity in a bid to blackmail his former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape.

The sentence came from a French court on Wednesday, and was tougher than that sought by prosecutors against the 33-year-old player over the 2015 extortion attempt.

The prosecution had called for Benzema, who was one of five people charged over an affair that rocked the French national team, to be given a 10-month suspended sentence.

Benzema was not in court in the Paris suburb of Versailles for the verdict, which comes hours before Real Madrid take on Sheriff Tiraspol in a Champions League game in Moldova.

The Versailles court also fined him $84,170 (75,000 euros) and ordered him to pay former team mate Mathieu Valbuena $89,705 (80,000 euros) to cover legal costs and $168,197 (150,000 euros) in damages together with his three other co-accused.

Benzema’s lawyer said he would appeal against the verdict.

Speaking to reporters at the courthouse, one of his lawyers, Sylvain Cormier, said he was “quite stunned by the ruling”.

However, the verdict is not expected to damage Benzema’s career.

French football federation president Noel Le Graet had expressed that Benzema could keep his place in Les Bleus even if convicted, and Real Madrid also remained supportive of their star player.

But Benzema’s conviction nonetheless cast a pall over his stunning comeback to the national team earlier this year after a years-long absence.

Benzema has scored nine times since being recalled by France manager Didier Deschamps for the Euro 2020 finals, delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, making him the fifth-highest scorer in the history of Les Bleus.

READ MORE: Karim Benzema recalled to French squad for Euros after six-year exile

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