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Court rejects Benzema's request to drop blackmail case

A French court has rejected Karim Benzema's request to halt his trial for alleged blackmail. The Real Madrid striker is accused of targeting fellow French international Mathieu Valbuena using a sex video.

Benzema, who denies any wrongdoing, and three other suspects had asked the Versailles Court of Appeals to dismiss the case against them.

They say police used "dishonest" methods by posing as a friend of Valbuena's in a telephone conversation with one of the accused.

Childhood friend

The scandal cost Benzema a place in France's Euro 2016 squad on home soil this year. He is yet to return to the international fold.

Investigators suspect 28-year-old Benzema of acting as an intermediary between the presumed blackmailers -- including one of his childhood friends -- and Lyon midfielder Valbuena.

Frankreich Mathieu Valbuena und Karim Benzema

Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema prior to a game against Nigeria during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Djibril Cisse, the former Liverpool and Marseille striker, could also be placed under investigation, with prosecutors calling for him to be formally charged.

Cisse is said to have informed Valbuena that "rumours" were circulating about the existence of the sex video. The 35-year-old was taken into custody in 2015 but was released without charge.

Benzema has been replaced as France's leading forward by Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, but national coach Didier Deschamps says he has not ruled out a return to the international fold for the Real forward.

hf/idr (AFP, Reuters)

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