Opera star Montserrat Caballé fails to show up for court hearing

The soprano had been due to sign legal deal admitting she defrauded taxman of €500,000

Montserrat Caballé.
Montserrat Caballé.Marcel.li Saenz

Opera singer Montserrat Caballé was supposed to put her problems with the law behind her on Tuesday.

At 10am, the 82-year-old soprano was scheduled to appear before a Barcelona judge to ratify the deal she had signed with the public prosecutor and the Tax Agency in which she would admit that in 2010 she defrauded €500,000 in tax. In exchange, she would receive a lighter, six-month sentence that would allow her to avoid actually going to jail.

Caballé’s lawyer told the judge he is no longer talking with his client

However, she failed to show up at the courtroom on Tuesday, and nobody seems to know exactly why.

Caballé’s lawyer gave up her case two days ago. On Tuesday morning he confirmed before the judge that he was no longer talking to his client and that, among other things, there was a “lack of confidence” between the two.

The lawyer was unable to explain why Caballé had failed to show up to the session. The judge accepted his resignation and was forced to suspend the hearing.

Caballé’s absence raises questions as to how the case will now be resolved. After arduous negotiations, the singer admitted to having committed tax fraud, having said she lived in the principality of Andorra when, in reality, her main residence was in Barcelona. She subsequently paid back the amount defrauded, which allowed for the punishment to be reduced to a six-month sentence for tax crimes.

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The judge will now ask Caballé to designate a new lawyer – if she doesn’t, one will be assigned to her – and look for a new date to hold the hearing. What is not known is whether Caballé will close the deal agreed with prosecutors or consider a new strategy. Although she has already signed the agreement, the law specifies that she needs to ratify it before a judge at an oral hearing. If she does not agree with the facts (which she has already accepted) the parties will once again present charges and a trial will be held.

The state of health of Caballé is delicate, sources close to her say, and she has already missed one hearing for medical reasons. Given her mobility problems, the judge and the prosecutor had to go to her home to question her during the investigation phase of the case.

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