Real Madrid star striker Karim Benzema’s trial for “complicity in attempted blackmail” over a sex tape involving former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena has been set in October.
A court official told AFP on Tuesday that Benzema will be tried in Versailles from October 20-22.
The 33-year-old striker faces up to five years in prison and a 75,000-euro fine in the case in which four other men are being prosecuted for attempted blackmail.
Benzema made 81 international appearances but has not been selected for his country since the affair came to light in 2015. He has scored 22 goals for Real Madrid this season and is the third top scorer in La Liga with 17.
The October 20 start of the trial coincides with one of the dates UEFA has provisionally set for the third round of matches in next season’s Champions League group stage.
Benzema told Valbuena that he could “introduce someone he trusted” to Valbuena, according to the latter, to help him “manage” the possible publication of this compromising video.
“Be careful Math, they’re big, big thugs,” Benzema reportedly said.
It was a way of “helping” his teammate, Benzema later explained.
Valbuena said he had “the impression of being taken for a fool”.
It will be up to the courts to determine whether this exchange was friendly advice or criminal pressure.
Benzema has described the trial as a “farce” in an Instagram post. Real refused to comment on the decision to go to trial.
The footballer has argued during the long investigation into the accusations that a police officer used dishonest methods to draw him into the affair.