Lionel Messi tax fraud trial concludes in Barcelona
Last Updated: 06/07/16 12:07pm
Lionel Messi's tax fraud trial has concluded and a verdict is expected to be confirmed at the start of next week.
Messi gets 21-month sentence for tax evasion
Lionel Messi gets 21-month sentence for tax evasion but set to avoid prison
The government prosecutor in the case is calling for a prison sentence for both Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi, although it is likely they will avoid jail time if found guilty and instead be fined and made to forfeit possible future tax benefits.
The four-day trial ended on Friday with both prosecutors contending that Messi's father was the main person responsible for defrauding Spain's tax authority of 4.1m Euros (£3.19m) from 2007-09.
However, the legal representative for the tax office said the Barcelona forward knew enough to also be held accountable, despite his statements to the contrary.
He called for a prison sentence of 22 months each for both Messi and his father, while the public prosecutor requested a sentence of 18 months for the father only.
"Messi should be acquitted," public prosecutor Raquel Amado said in her closing arguments. "The fraud occurred because of a decision of his father. There is no evidence Messi was aware of it."
Government prosecutor Mario Maza said Messi and his father did not prove their innocence and were not able to show that the player did not have at least some knowledge of the corporate structures created to lower his tax burden in Spain.
"Messi knew more than he made it appear (in court)," Maza said, adding that they "showed no credibility."
Messi and his father refused to answer questions from Maza when they testified on Thursday, speaking only when quizzed by the public prosecutor, who had already called for Messi's acquittal before the trial began.