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BENZEMA

Benzema free to play for France despite sex-tape probe

Karim Benzema could yet line up in the French team alongside Mathieu Valbuena, after legal restrictions linked to his involvement in a sex tape blackmail plot were lifted.

Benzema free to play for France despite sex-tape probe
Photo: AFP

France and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema  is free to play in Euro 2016 after legal restrictions placed on him over his alleged involvement in a sex tape blackmail case were lifted Friday, his lawyers said.

Under the restrictions, Benzema was not allowed to come into contact with his international teammate Mathieu Valbuena, who was the target of the blackmail attempt.

But an appeals court upheld an investigating magistrate's decision to lift the restrictions, allowing Benzema to be involved in the same national squad as Valbuena, if the two are selected for the tournament that France is hosting.

“Good sense has won the day,” one of Benzema's lawyers, Sylvain Cormier, told reporters.

“Now the decision (of Benzema's potential involvement in Euro 2016) is no longer ours,” he added.

France coach Didier Deschamps suspended 28-year-old Benzema from the national team after he was placed under formal investigation over the affair in November.

Despite Friday's ruling, Benzema remains under investigation.

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BENZEMA

French court rejects Benzema request to drop sextape case

A French court on Friday rejected a request from Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema to drop the investigation into alleged blackmail over a sextape featuring international teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a lawyer said.

French court rejects Benzema request to drop sextape case
Photo: AFP
“We are pretty astonished because the decision is to reject our requests for the investigation to be cancelled,” said Serge Money, who represents another suspect in the case, which cost Benzema a place in France's Euro 2016 squad on home soil this year.
 
The case, which cost Benzema a place in France's Euro 2016 squad on home soil, is now expected to go to trial next year.
   
The Versailles appeal court also asked the investigating magistrate to consider charging former Liverpool and Marseille striker Djibril Cisse.
   
Investigators suspect 28-year-old Benzema of acting as an intermediary between the presumed blackmailers — including one of his childhood friends — and Lyon midfielder Valbuena.
   
Benzema and three of the other suspects asked for the case against them to be dropped.
   
They say police used “dishonest” methods by posing as a friend of Valbuena's in a telephone conversation with one of the accused.
   
The prosecution meanwhile says Cisse helped to push along the deception by informing Valbuena that “rumours” were circulating about the existence of the sextape.
   
The 35-year-old was arrested as part of the investigation in 2015 but was released without charge.
   
Cisse said in a TV interview at the time that he had only been arrested “so the investigators could hear my side of the story. I never swindled anyone — Mathieu is a friend”.
   
Benzema has been usurped as France's star striker by Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, but national coach Didier Deschamps says he has not ruled out a return to the international fold for the Real forward.
 
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