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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 April, 2005, 22:33 GMT 23:33 UK
Jackson boy 'faced Brazil exile'
Cynthia Montgomery
Ms Montgomery is involved in a separate legal fight with Mr Jackson
Michael Jackson's travel agent was told to book one-way tickets to Brazil for his accuser Gavin Arvizo and the boy's family, a California court has heard.

Testifying at the pop star's sex abuse trial, travel agent Cynthia Montgomery said she was told to make the booking by Mr Jackson's aide Marc Schaffel.

Prosecutors allege Mr Jackson and five aides, including Mr Schaffel, planned to kidnap and detain the family.

Mr Jackson denies all 10 charges against him, including kidnapping.

Four passengers

"He asked me to make flight arrangements for four passengers to Brazil. One way tickets," Ms Montgomery claimed.

I chose a date arbitrarily and then I called him [Schaffel] to tell him what I had done and the reason I did it
Cynthia Montgomery

Ms Montgomery said that following Mr Schaffel's call on 25 February 2003 she organised seats on a 1 March flight to Sao Paulo for 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo, his mother and two siblings.

However, Ms Montgomery said she was forced to book tickets for a round-trip, at a cost of $15,092 (7,918), because US citizens are not allowed to enter Brazil on a one-way ticket.

"I chose a date arbitrarily and then I called him [Schaffel] to tell him what I had done and the reason I did it," Ms Montgomery said.

Change of plan

Members of the jury were shown copies of the flight reservations.

However, Ms Montgomery said the tickets were never actually purchased because Mr Schaffel later told her that he "had a change of plans".

Prosecution lawyers say that the flights were part of a plot to remove the Arvizo family from any possible media contact in the wake of a damaging TV documentary which raised speculation about the nature of Mr Jackson's relationship with the boy.

Joe Jackson (left) with Michael Jackson (centre) and Katherine Jackson (right)
Mr Jackson arrived in court flanked by his parents

Prosecutors claim that Mr Jackson panicked after the programme, Living with Michael Jackson, was broadcast in February 2003.

Mr Jackson is accused of molesting 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo in 2003.

In his cross examination of the witness, defence lawyer Thomas Mesereau questioned Ms Montgomery's credibility, pointing out that she is currently involved in a separate legal battle over illegal video taping on the star's private jet.

The FBI is trying to establish who planted the hidden cameras on the plane which carried Mr Jackson to California in November 2003 when he surrendered to the authorities in Santa Barbara for questioning over alleged child abuse.

The judge presiding over Mr Jackson's sex abuse trial, Rodney Melville, granted Ms Montgomery immunity to testify on Tuesday.

Celebrity line-up

Ms Montgomery's testimony came as prosecutors wound down nine weeks of testimony against the pop star

The defence case will begin almost immediately after the prosecution finishes.

When it begins making its case it is expected to call on a host of celebrities to testify to the singer's good character and innocent love of children.

The stars could include actresses Liza Minnelli and Liz Taylor, singers Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross, and interviewer Larry King, as well as the former child star Macaulay Culkin.

Mr Jackson faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.


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