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France court rejects Benzema slander case against minister

A French court on Thursday threw out a defamation case brought by professional football player Karim Benzema against Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

The French 2022 Ballon d’Or winner wrote on X, formerly Twitter, in October that Palestinian civilians in Gaza were in his prayers over what he called Israel’s “unjust bombardments” of the besieged territory, after the October 7 attacks on Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Darmanin, a tough-talking right-winger, on television on October 16 alleged the 36-year-old player for Saudi side Al-Ittihad had “well-known” ties with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group with origins in Egypt, which he described as a “hydra”.

Benzema, who used to play for Real Madrid, said in his complaint last month the accusations “undermined” his honour and reputation.

He said he had “never had the slightest link with the Muslim Brotherhood organisation”.

A committee at the country’s only court empowered to prosecute politicians for alleged offenses committed while in government on Thursday found no grounds for any attack on his honour or reputation, top prosecutor Remy Heitz said.

Hamas on October 7 carried out an unprecedented attack that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Palestinian militants also took about 250 people hostage. Around 130 of them remain captive in Gaza, including 29 believed dead, according to Israeli officials.

Relentless Israeli bombardment and fighting in Gaza has since killed at least 28,663 people, most of them civilians, the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry says.

Hamas was founded as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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