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An Italian court has acquitted opera star Luciano Pavarotti of charges of filing false tax returns.

The trial in Pavarotti's hometown started in May but was immediately adjourned to September, when the singer told the court he had always acted in good faith when filing returns from 1989 to 1995.

The 66-year-old tenor has long claimed that his official residence is Monte Carlo, a tax haven, rather than Modena. A veteran of performances around the world, he also says the core of his business world is not in Italy.

Pavarotti wasn't present in the courtroom for the verdict. Later, he met with reporters at a friend's villa in Modena and told them: "I really want to thank the law, which triumphed. I'm not a tax evader. I have always paid taxes."

Prosecutors had maintained that Modena, where the tenor had lived for years and stages annual charity concerts, is the center of his activities.

Conviction could have brought a sentence of up to three years. Prosecutors had sought conviction and a sentence of 1 1/2 years.

Pavarotti agreed last year to pay the Italian government more than $11 million in back taxes and penalties on civil tax evasion charges from those years.

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