The Argentinian player was accompanied by his father Jorge at Barcelona’s High Court this morning to take the stand in his defence on tax evasion charges.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi, one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, arrived on Thursday at the Barcelona High Court to take the stand for the first time during his trial for tax fraud
Messi accused of evading 4.1 million euros of tax
Messi who wore a black suit and tie, was both cheered and jeered as he emerged from a van, accompanied by his father Jorge Horacio Messi at 10:15 (CEST) this morning.
The two are accused of using a chain of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes of 4.16 million euros on Messi’s income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-09.
Messi faces possible 22 month jail sentence
A massive media presence greeted Messi father and son, with more than 200 journalists present. Messi will speak today in the third day of the ongoing case with state lawyers requesting a prison sentence of 22 months and 15 days for the football player.
Even where Messi was given such a jail sentence this would likely be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences carrying a sentence of less than two years.
The case for the defence: Messi knew nothing
Messi’s defense lawyers have argued that the player “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts, and therefore knew nothing about his financial arrangements.
But the court in Barcelona ruled in June 2015 that the player should not be granted special immunity for not knowing what was happening with his finances, which were being managed in part by his father Jorge Horacio Messi.
A verdict on the case is expected sometime next week.