Luciano Pavarotti pleaded innocent to tax evasion charges yesterday (Sept. 17) in an Italian court. The tenor is on trial on charges of filing false tax returns from 1989-95. If convicted, he could fa

Luciano Pavarotti pleaded innocent to tax evasion charges yesterday (Sept. 17) in an Italian court. The tenor is on trial on charges of filing false tax returns from 1989-95. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison.

"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," the tenor said, according to his lawyer, Massimo Leone. Pavarotti, dressed in a black suit, gave his statement at the opening of the hearing in Modena, in central Italy.

The tenor has long claimed that his official home is in Monte Carlo, a tax haven, rather than Modena. He also claims that his business core is not in Italy.

"A singer expresses himself in the world," he said in court, adding that he divides his time between New York, Monte Carlo and London, and doesn't even have a house in Modena. "I earn abroad and bring the money into Italy," he said, according to the ANSA news agency. "I don't think it's right to think ill of me for this reason."

But prosecutors maintain Modena, the tenor's home city and the place where he stages his annual charity concerts, is the center of his activities. The tenor's good faith "is yet to be proven," said Prosecutor Manfredi Luongo.

Ending a long administrative battle, Pavarotti agreed last year to pay the Italian government more than $11.3 million in back taxes and penalties on civil tax evasion charges stemming from those same years.

The criminal case started in May. The next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, but Pavarotti, who arrived with companion Nicoletta Mantovani at his side, is not expected to be in court, said Leone.


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