Karim Benzema’s lawyer has hit out at the media circus that has surrounded his client’s appearance in a French court and outlined his confidence that the Real Madrid striker will be cleared of any crime.
Benzema was on Thursday charged with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy as part of an investigation into an alleged sex-tape plot involving France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
Benzema and Valbuena cannot meet until the Lyon midfielder has given his version of events to investigators – prompting France boss Didier Deschamps to omit both players from his squad for the upcoming friendlies with Germany and England.
Benzema’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, has no doubt, however, that the 27-year-old will clear his name once all the evidence has been presented.
He told reporters outside the courtroom in Versailles: “He’s absolutely calm. He knows that he’s beyond reproach. I hope the case will be over very soon.
“The investigating magistrate did not give any specific grounds [on why he has been charged]. At the end of the day, it’s to confirm an investigation is starting against him. That’s a notification. It is absolutely not a pre-conviction. We must be really clear about it. I have read a lot of things in the newspapers. I have heard a lot of mistakes in the radio, speaking about a conviction, a confession. Nothing like that ever happened.
“It is regrettable that the presumption of innocence of famous people may have been disregarded. This media hype is a pre-sentence. That shouldn’t happen. We shouldn’t learn in the media that we could be summoned by the police. To be welcomed by photographs and media in the police station… I am outraged by that situation.”
Cormier insisted there was nothing unusual in the fact Benzema and Valbuena cannot meet face to face.
“Obviously they need the declaration of the victim, Mathieu Valbuena. He must be heard, that’s logical and quite normal,” said Cormier, who admitted he was surprised Benzema had been charged at this stage.
“I am a lawyer, a defence counsel,” he added. “In my opinion, there is enough doubt about a number of different aspects in order to say stop here, we need to be careful. The investigating magistrate wanted to examine the evidence as quick as possible. We accept that choice.”