Thursday, June 2, 2016

Barcelona Lionel Messi Appears in court to take stand at his tax fraud trial

Argentine star Lionel Messi has arrived at a Barcelona court to take the stand for the first time at his tax fraud trial.

The 28-year-old Barcelona forward wore a black suit and tie as he emerged from a van accompanied by his father Jorge Horacio Messi.

They are accused of using a chain of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16m euros (£3.23m) of Messi's income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-09.

Dozens of photographers and onlookers crowded behind metal barriers and a line of police that guarded the entrance of the court to catch a glimpse of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. Most applauded but some jeered and criticised the Argentina international.

Messi and his father will be questioned on Thursday on the third day of the trial, which is expected to end on Friday.

After his court appearance in Barcelona, Messi will fly to the United States to play in the Copa America. Argentina take on defending champions Chile in their first game of the three-week tournament in California on Monday.

The high-profile case kicked off on Tuesday without Messi, as he was recovering in his hometown of Rosario in Argentina from a lower back injury he suffered during a friendly match against Honduras last week.

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