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Benzema one step closer to France return after ruling in sex-tape case

Judge’s decision to allow contact with Valbuena could be crucial for the striker.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE LEGAL RESTRICTIONS on France and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema over his alleged involvement in a sex-tape case have been partially lifted, allowing him to contact international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, a judiciary source said yesterday.

The investigating magistrate in the case ruled that the legal constraints can be removed, but prosecutors immediately appealed against the decision, with the case to be heard before a court in Versailles, outside Paris, on 4 March.

Wednesday’s ruling “is immediately enforceable”, the prosecutors’ office said in a statement.

“The investigating magistrate decided to partially lift the judicial restriction, in removing the ban on contacting Mathieu Valbuena,” the statement said, adding: “The ban on contacting the others indicted … is maintained.”

If the judge’s decision to lift the restrictions are upheld, it could pave the way for Benzema to return to the national team in time for Euro 2016, which France is hosting.

However, a source close to French football’s ruling body said the lifting of restrictions would probably not change the position of the French Football Federation unless the decision is upheld on appeal.

“The Federation, if they must act, will not do so until the judicial situation has been completely clarified,” the same source said.

France kick off the tournament against Romania on 10 June.

France coach Didier Deschamps suspended Benzema from the national team after he was placed under formal investigation in November for alleged complicity in a blackmail attempt targeting Valbuena.

Benzema, 28, has continued to play for Real Madrid and started against Roma in the Spanish giants’ 2-0 victory in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League match on Wednesday.

He has denied any wrongdoing but could face a five-year jail term if found guilty.

© – AFP 2016


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