Football: Valbuena appears before judge in sex tape probe
Mathieu Valbuena, the victim of a sex tape blackmail attempt, over which fellow France international Karim Benzema has been charged, appeared before a judge investigating the affair on Friday, judicial sources confirmed.
The hearing began around 0930 GMT on Friday morning in a court in Versailles, on the outskirts of Paris, hours before Valbuena was due to play for his French club Lyon against Nice.
Judge Nathalie Boutard will question the 31-year-old player notably concerning a conversation he had with Benzema on October 5 at the France national training centre in Clairefontaine, outside Paris.
The enquiry will bid to determine whether 27-year-old Real Madrid striker Benzema acted as a friend or a blackmailer during the conversation.
A source close to the investigation has said Benzema has admitted approaching Valbuena about the tape on behalf of a "childhood friend", Karim Zenati, who himself had been contacted by blackmailers in possession of the tape.
But Benzema's lawyer said the player was innocent and "has admitted nothing at all".
Investigators have recordings of a telephone conversation on October 6 with Zenati during which Benzema tells his friend about his conversation with Valbuena the previous day.
"I did have a conversation with Zenati on the way to approach the subject with Mathieu Valbuena ... but without a second thought," Benzema told investigators.
"That Karim Zenati benefited from it wasn't my aim, I didn't think about it, I'm frankly shocked, I feel stupid when I see that."
Both players were left out of the France squad for the recent friendly matches against Germany -- which was disrupted by suicide attackers outside the Stade de France last Friday -- and the game against England at Wembley on Tuesday.
The blackmail case began in June, when Valbuena lodged a complaint with police after being telephoned by an unknown person who said he had the sex tape in his possession.
© 2015 AFP