Karim Benzema wins appeal to have blackmail charge re-examined

Karim Benzema has won a partial victory in his fight against a charge of conspiracy to blackmail former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

The Real Madrid forward is accused of playing a role in a plot to extort money from Valbuena over the reported existence of a sex-tape showing the Lyon playmaker and his partner.

Benzema and his friend and co-defendant Karim Zenati had contested the legality of the investigation and claimed that some of their conversations had been illegally listened in to. A transcript of one conversation between the pair was published in full by L'Equipe in November 2015, with extracts first appearing in Europe 1.

Benzema applied in May of last year for the process against him to be annulled, with his lawyer Patrice Spinosi accusing an undercover policeman who served as an intermediary between Valbuena and the alleged blackmailers of playing an active role in "provoking" the commission of the offence.

The application was rejected in December by the appeal court of Versailles, but that verdict was annulled on Tuesday by the Cour de cassation, France's supreme court of appeal.

The court did not clear Benzema of wrongdoing, merely ruling that certain aspects of the police investigation had broken rules.

The case was passed to the appeal court of Paris, which will rule anew on the matter.

Mr Spinosi told France Info: "It is certainly a big victory. In practice, this must mean that the evidence against Karim Benzema is set aside."

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