FILE PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema arrives to appear before judge at the criminal court in Madrid, Spain, April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Juan Medina/File Photo
A Spanish court on Tuesday dismissed accusations that Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema used “subterfuge and lies” to help his friend Raphaël Varane rape a French model in 2013.
The 26-year-old Benzema, who has also played for Chelsea and Lyon, has been accused of aiding and abetting the sex attack, which took place in a Parisian hotel, according to court documents in 2015.
Varane, currently with the French national team preparing for the World Cup, was initially sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the incident but was absolved last year on the condition he served two years probation. The French international has played for Spain since 2015.
Benzema, who denies any wrongdoing, won a ban from all footballing activity in a previous hearing.
A Madrid court on Tuesday cited evidence provided by the model, a 29-year-old identified as Marie Le.
“The evidence shows that Benzema used pretexts and the element of truth to conceal the truth from Marie and that he was therefore responsible for the assistance given to Raphaël Varane,” Judge Jorge Fernandez said in a press statement.
More than 100 million people watched France beat Croatia in the last World Cup. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Benzema is named as a suspect and offered the possibility of testimony from other people before he is subject to further investigation, according to the court documents.
He is not the only footballer facing rape accusations in France. Mohamed Salah, the club captain of Liverpool and a talisman for Egypt who helped propel his country to the World Cup in Russia, was arrested in February in connection with a separate complaint, but has not been charged.
He was initially ordered to be held in custody after an investigation was opened in connection with a complaint filed by a model and her mother accusing him of rape. The case has stalled because of objections from Salah’s defence lawyers.