France and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has dropped his appeal against his one-year suspended prison sentence and €75,000 fine for complicity in a bid to blackmail former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape, the French media reported on Saturday.
During last year’s trial, the Versailles court convicted Benzema of involvement in an attempt to blackmail Valbuena in 2015 which shocked French football and saw him exiled from the national team for five-and-a-half years.
Though the star footballer has since returned to playing for France, the conviction has not kept him off the field.
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Benzema’s lawyer Hugues Vigier told French newspaper L’Equipe that the Madrid star has dropped the appeal because he has grown “exhausted” by the process. The appeals trial had been scheduled to open on June 30.
“My client is worn out by this process. This withdrawal endorses a ruling of condemnation and apparently of guilt. It is a judicial truth. But it is not reality,” Vigier was quoted as saying.
“Karim Benzema will always claim his innocence in this case and he never wanted to participate in a blackmail operation against Mathieu Valbuena,” he added.
The 34-year-old Benzema claimed the Champions League trophy for Real Madrid last week and scored France’s only goal in a 2-1 Nations League loss to Denmark on Friday night.