Paris - A
court on Friday rejected a request from Real Madrid and France striker
Karim Benzema to drop the investigation into alleged blackmail over a
sex tape featuring international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The case, which cost Benzema a place in France's Euro 2016 squad on home soil, is now expected to go to trial next year.
are pretty astonished because the decision is to reject our requests
for the investigation to be cancelled," said Serge Money, who represents
another suspect in the case.
The Versailles appeal court also
asked the investigating magistrate to consider charging former Liverpool
and Marseille striker Djibril Cisse for his alleged involvement.
suspect 28-year-old Benzema of acting as an intermediary between the
presumed blackmailers - including one of his childhood friends - and
Lyon midfielder Valbuena.
Benzema and three of the other suspects asked for the case against them to be dropped.
say police used "dishonest" methods by posing as a friend of Valbuena's
in a telephone conversation with one of the accused.
The court rejected their arguments and ruled the police's methods were permissible.
Benzema's lawyer Sylvain Cormier said his client would fight on to clear his name.
Benzema is innocent, he did nothing wrong in this case. We are going to
do everything we can to prove his innocence," he said.
prosecution says Cisse helped to further the deception by informing
Valbuena that "rumours" were circulating about the existence of the
Cisse, 35, was arrested as part of the investigation in 2015 but was released without charge.
said in a TV interview at the time that he had only been arrested "so
the investigators could hear my side of the story. I never swindled
anyone - Mathieu is a friend".
Valbuena's lawyer said the player was "delighted" by Friday's decision.
"It will allow there to be a public debate (about the case), which is what he has always wanted," Paul-Albert Iweins said.
has been usurped as France's star striker 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.