Monday, July 24, 2017

Benzema lawyer hits back at Liberation, French Prime Minister

SoccerNews in La Liga 19 Mar 2016

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Karim Benzema intends to sue Liberation after the French newspaper published a report linking him to an investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering, according to a lawyer representing the Real Madrid striker.

Benzema gave evidence as a witness last January as part of an inquiry by the Paris prosecutor’s office.

The France forward has also been charged with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy as part of a separate investigation into a sex-tape plot involving international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Eric Dupond-Moretti, the French criminal lawyer recently added to Benzema’s legal team, told L’Equipe that Liberation’s coverage suggested guilt on the part of his client in the case where he is solely a witness.

“He is a simple witness,” Dupond-Moretti said. “He’s the only witness to a case that appears on the cover of a newspaper as if he were guilty of a series of offences.

“The title is very evocative, Look at the words used: “money laundering”, “organised gangs”, “drugs”. I will sue Liberation.

“He was heard as a witness by customs. Customs have the opportunity, if there is an infringement, to refer Karim Benzema to the prosecutor. [Benzema was] merely a witness.”

Dupond-Moretti also hit out at French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who earlier this week said Benzema should not be allowed to return from international duty while the Valbuena case was ongoing.

The lawyer suggested it was not Valls’ place to suggest who France boss Didier Deschamps should pick, while alluding to previous criminal convictions given to members of his government.

“I must say that in the case of the sex tape, I was very shocked by the statements of the Prime Minister,” Dupond-Moretti said. 

“To my knowledge, Didier Deschamps has not asked the Prime Minister to reconstruct his government, which nevertheless contains two convicts.

“This is a serious attack on the presumption of innocence.”

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