The French striker is accused of trying to blackmail former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena in 2015.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema will be on trial for complicity in an attempted blackmail in a sex tape case starring his former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, French prosecutors have said.
The prosecutor’s office in Versailles, France, said Thursday that the trial had been ordered against the player for complicity in attempting to pressure Valbuena, who was allegedly threatened during a phone call in June 2015, with the publication of the video.
He will be tried for conspiracy to attempt blackmail, the prosecutor’s office said. A date for the trial has yet to be set.
Benzema, 33, one of the most talented French strikers of his generation, has been banned from the national team since November 2015 due to his alleged involvement in the scandal, despite his consistent performances with Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Investigators who indicted Benzema believe he was approached by a childhood friend that year to act as a go-between and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Instead, Valbuena informed the police.
Four other people will also be tried in this case. Benzema denies any wrongdoing.
“This decision is as absurd as it is predictable,” Benzema’s lawyer Sylvain Cormier told the Associated Press news agency, denouncing perceived “persecution” against the player.
When the story broke, Benzema faced a deluge of criticism and then Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the former Lyon player had “no place” in the national team. Former French President Francois Hollande reportedly said in a book that Benzema was not an example of morality.
Neither Benzema nor Valbuena were selected by coach Didier Deschamps for the Euro 2016 final at home where France was beaten in the final by Portugal.
Benzema has not played for France since scoring twice in a 4-0 win over Armenia in October 2015, bringing his total to 27 goals in 81 international appearances.
He has scored over 250 goals for Real Madrid and won four Champions League titles with the Spanish club.