Court validates the sextape blackmail investigation into Karim Benzema, opening the door to formal charges

On Monday the Court of Cassation chose to validate the investigation into Karim Benzema, Djibril Cissé and others relating to the possible blackmail of ex-French international attacking midfielder Mathieu Valbuena. This opens the door to prosecutors formerly charging the individuals under investigation, including Real Madrid’s #9.

The case of Mathieu Valbuena’s sextape is far from over, so decided the plenary assembly of the Court of Cassation. After an initial hearing on 25th November, called to examine the fairness of the methods employed by Yann Bessette, the police commissioner who conducted the investigations into the suspects and played the role of an undercover intermediary between Mathieu Valbuena and the alleged masterminds behind the plot to extort the ex-Marseille and Lyon player for money in exchange for his sextape being returned.

For Karim Benzema, Karim Zenati and Younès Houass, the three of the six individuals indicted in this matter, this was a big legal defeat, in a case that has been hanging over them since 2015. They claimed that the police officer’s method of posing as a man called “Lukas” was an unfair scheme to provoke a crime through his hounding of Younès Houass in particular.

It was on this specific matter that the 19 magistrates were left to deliberate, ultimately delivering their verdict this Monday afternoon. Their view is that the policeman did not commit any abuses in his methodology and did not cause the offence because it had already been committed. The investigation was therefore valid.

The magistrates’ official decision was published a few minutes after their announcement:

“Any method of investigation that would contribute to provoking the commission of an offense is outlawed… Apart from this hypothesis, the use by the public authorities of a ploy to establish an infringement or the identification of its perpetrators does not, in itself, constitute an infringement of the principle of fairness of the evidence.”

This ruling pleased Mathieu Valbuena’s lawyer Frédéric Thiriez, who is also the ex-president of French league body LFP: “This decision is imbued in wisdom.”

The defendants’ camp obviously have a difference of opinion and struggle to understand this decision which goes against the judgment handed down by the criminal chamber of the Court of Cassation in July 2017. Indeed, that chamber had invalidated part of the investigation. A source close to the defendants surmised the situation as follows: “When the Court of Cassation overrules the Court of Cassation.”

Karim Benzema’s lawyer, Patrice Spinosi, also reacted: “It’s really very surprising to read. But it does not change anything. Karim Benzema continues to protest his innocence. If he is to be formally prosecuted, he will go to defend himself before the judges. He does not fear anything because there is nothing against him.”

The next step is for the case to return to the Versailles Criminal Court where the six individuals indicted (Angot, Zouaoui, Cissé, Zenati, Houass & Benzema) may be tried at the court’s discretion. Any formal trial is not expected to be held for another year.

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