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Tuesday, January 27, 1998 Published at 02:08 GMT


Beauty queen in attempted murder trial
image: [ Machado broke down at a news conference after the court hearing ]
Machado broke down at a news conference after the court hearing

One of the best-known figures in the international beauty business, the Venezuelan Alicia Machado, has appeared in court accused of being an accomplice in an attempted murder.

Miss Machado and her boyfriend deny involvement in an attack in Caracas in which the boyfriend's brother-in-law was shot in the head.

The former Miss Universe is accused of driving her boyfriend, Juan Rodriguez, from the scene of the shooting.

[ image: Machado: Wanted to 'eat. eat and eat' after winning Miss Universe]
Machado: Wanted to 'eat. eat and eat' after winning Miss Universe
The incident happened last November after the funeral of Mr Rodriguez's sister.

Prosecutors say Mr Rodriguez blamed his brother-in-law for driving her to suicide.

They allege that he shot Francisco Sbert twice in the head, causing brain damage.

Miss Machado says she was filming a soap opera at the time.

The drama outside the courtroom proved too much for Miss Machado. After thanking journalists at a new conference for listening she burst into tears.

Television programmes in Venezuela are peppered with images of former beauty queens.

Venezuela has produced more winners of the Miss Universe and Miss World contests than any other country.

After winning the Miss Universe title in 1996, Miss Machado announced that all she wanted to do was "eat, eat and eat".

Her subsequent weight gain, and battle to lose it, was the subject of intense media coverage, particularly in Latin America.

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