He shines in the Champions League, where he participated Wednesday evening with a goal against Manchester City (3-1, ap) in Real Madrid’s incredible qualification for the final. But Karim Benzema does not neglect the legal field. The 34-year-old French international striker has filed a complaint against the activist of Reconquest, the party of Éric Zemmour, Damien Rieu. A procedure for public defamation, linked to two tweets from the one who was previously a member of the National Rally (RN).
The first dates from October 23, 2020, where the former spokesperson for the far-right group Identity Generation dissolved in 2021 had mentioned the player on the social network. He had published a photo of the former Lyon center-forward posing next to the imam of Meaux (Seine-et-Marne) Nourdine Mamoune. “Interesting to discover that @benzema is dating Imam Nourdine Mamoune who has just been searched (an operation carried out three days after the assassination of Samuel Paty which did not result in any prosecution). Strongly that justice is also interested in the financing of the mosques of Bron (city of the Rhône where Benzema is from)”, he had published.
A month later, on November 22, 2020, Damien Rieu again challenged the player on Twitter with a photo of the player with his index finger in the air, a sign of faith in Islam, placed next to those of jihadists carrying out the same gesture. “I think @benzema wants to send us a message,” he posted. A year and a half later, the two tweets are still online.
The player’s lawyer, Me Sylvain Cormier, was indignant at this publication at the time and mentioned Emmanuel Macron and the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, on the same social network. “Recidivist far-right activist Damien Lefèvre (Damien Rieu’s real name) fuels hatred, his latest tweet equates Karim Benzema with a terrorist. Should we wait for a new drama to react? “, he had published.
Damien Rieu evokes “a classic procedure to intimidate”
The representative of the man who returned to the Blues just before Euro 2021 has since brought the case to court and a complaint for public defamation has been filed. Damien Rieu is summoned on May 23 to the court of Lyon (Rhône) in order to be indicted, a usual procedure in this type of case. Contacted, the former parliamentary attaché of the deputy Gilbert Collard evokes “a classic procedure to intimidate”. On Tuesday, he posted his summons on Twitter. “Karim wants me to shut up… Tell him that I won all my trials,” he said.
“I don’t want to talk about the merits of the case yet, but from what I see on the summons, defamation seems to me very difficult to characterize in this case”, explains his lawyer, Me Pierre -Vincent Lambert, who does not expect a judgment on the merits before the start of 2023. Contacted, Sylvain Cormier did not wish to discuss the file which is still only at the stage of instruction.
Very active on social networks where he multiplied the messages to support the presidential campaign of Éric Zemmour, Damien Rieu was convicted at first instance for having entered the roof of a mosque in Poitiers in 2012 with other activists and for having participated in the anti-migrant operation in the Alps in 2018. Two cases for which he was released on appeal.
For his part, Karim Benzema does not only have this case to manage in his legal agenda. The Real Madrid striker was sentenced for complicity in attempted blackmail to one year in prison suspended and 75,000 euros fine in the case of the sex tape of his former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. The player’s defense appealed, and he is called to appear before the Versailles Court of Appeal on June 30 and July 1.