Pavarotti cleared of tax evasion

Friday 19 October 2001 00:00 BST

An Italian court has acquitted opera star Luciano Pavarotti of charges of filing false tax returns.

The trial, in Pavarotti's hometown, had started in May but was immediately adjourned to September, when the singer told the court he had always acted in good faith when filing returns from 1989 to 1995.

The tenor has long claimed that his official residence is Monte Carlo, a tax haven, rather than Modena. A veteran of performances around the world, he also claims that the core of his business world is not in Italy.

Pavarotti wasn't present in the courtroom for the late afternoon verdict, but he did attend final arguments in the morning.

Later, he met with reporters at a friend's villa in Modena and told them: "I really want to thank the law, which triumphed. I'm not a tax evader. I have always paid taxes."

Prosecutors had maintained that Modena, where the tenor had lived for years and holds annual charity concerts, is the center of his activities.

Conviction could have brought a sentence of up to three years. Prosecutors had sought conviction and a sentence of 1 1/2 years.

On the administrative front, Pavarotti last year agreed to pay the Italian government more than 24 billion lire in back taxes and penalties on civil tax evasion charges stemming from those same years.

Pavarotti's companion, Nicoletta Mantovani, in the courtroom for the verdict, told reporters: "We were expecting it."

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