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Barcelona star Lionel Messi's tax fraud trial opens

Barcelona star Lionel Messi's tax fraud trial opens


A court in Barcelona has started hearing the trial of Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi on tax fraud charges.

Messi and his father, who manages his financial affairs, are accused of defrauding Spain of more than some $4.5 million  between 2007 and 2009.

The authorities say that the two used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings.

Heavy fines and prison sentences have been discussed.

The trial is expected to last for three days, with Messi and his father, who have both denied the allegations appearing in court on Thursday.

Javier Sanchez Vera, one of the lawyers in the defence team, presented a medical report in court on tuesday, that Messi was injured and therefore would not be present.

Sentences of two years or less are likely possibilities. Messi has been resident in Barcelona since 2000 and has had Spanish citizenship since 2005.