Real Madrid forward, Karim Benzema’s trial for his alleged involvement in an attempted blackmail case linked to a sex tape featuring his former France team-mate Matthieu Valbuena, has kicked off.
Benzema is accused encouraging Valbuena to pay blackmailers who threatened to make the sexually explicit video public in 2015.
The 33-year-old has denied wrongdoing and his lawyer has described the case against the player as “absurd”.
Benzema faces up to five years in jail and a €75,000 (£63,282) fine if convicted.
Benzema, who played for Real Madrid in their 5-0 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on Tuesday night, was absent as the trial got underway in Versailles.
His four co-accused – Mustapha Zouaoui, Younes Houass, Karim Zenati & Axel Angot – face charges of attempted blackmail and were present as court proceedings began.
Benzema and Valbuena were international team-mates at the time of the affair but lost their places in the France squad in the wake of the scandal.