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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Pavarotti denies tax evasion
Pavarotti
Pavarotti has had a long legal battle over taxes
Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti has pleaded not guilty to tax evasion before a court in his home town of Modena, Italy.

The tenor could face three years in prison if he is found guilty.

Pavarotti told the court: "I don't feel guilty and if a law says the contrary, I want you all to know that I was acting in total good faith."

Pavarotti
Pavarotti: "A singer expresses himself in the world"
Italian prosecutors allege that Pavarotti still owes the government unpaid taxes for the period 1989 to 1995 - despite the tenor's payment of 24 billion lira in back taxes (7.8m) in 2000.

Pavarotti needs to convince prosecutors that he was resident in the tax haven of Monte Carlo for the period in question - and not in Italy.

"A singer expresses himself in the world," he told the court - adding that he did not have a house in Modena and spent his time between New York, Monte Carlo and London.

Witnesses

"I earn abroad and bring the money into Italy - I don't think it's right to think ill of me for this reason," said the tenor.

Pavarotti did not appear at the opening of the trial in May.

His lawyer, Massimo Leone said in May: "We will present a series of documents and witnesses to show that the core of Pavarotti's business is not in Italy, but all over the world, from Britain to the United States."

Mr Leone has refused to indicate the exact amount of money in question.

This case is the culmination of a long-running battle over the tenor's taxes.

Successful career

Last summer Pavarotti agreed to pay the Italian government back taxes for the same period in installments.

But under Italian law once the authorities have been notified of a criminal act there is a duty to prosecute.

And after a hugely successful career during which he has sung in 60 countries, given nearly 2,000 performances and won five Grammies, the Italian taxman is now demanding a further penalty.

The prosecution is set to call 25 expert witnesses, including opera impresarios from the United States and several European countries.

The next hearing is on Tuesday, but the singer is not expected to be in court.

See also:

20 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Pavarotti's anniversary date
14 Jul 01 | Music
Pavarotti wows Hyde Park
27 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Pavarotti settles tax wrangle
02 May 01 | Arts
Pavarotti tax trial adjourned
02 May 01 | Arts
King of the high Cs
14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Pavarotti dreams of Madonna duet
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