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Messi set to answer questions in tax fraud case

Friday - 9/27/2013, 8:55am  ET

Barcelona F.C. star Lionel Messi, left, arrives at a court to answer questions in a tax fraud case in Gava, near Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. Messi and his father were ordered by the Spanish court to appear for questioning on Friday as part of an investigation into tax fraud allegations. The court in the Mediterranean coastal town of Gava near Barcelona accepted a state prosecutor's complaint alleging that Messi and father Jorge defrauded the Spanish tax office of 4 million euros ($5.3 million). (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Associated Press

GAVA, Spain (AP) -- Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father appeared before a Spanish judge to answer questions in a tax fraud case on Friday.

Messi was probed by the judge for about 30 minutes after his father had been questioned.

Cristobal Martell, Messi's lawyer, said there was "a great willingness to normalize the situation."

Messi, wearing a suit but no tie, arrived smiling at Gava's court No. 3, an hour after his father, Jorge Horacio Messi.

He was cheered on by some 30 fans alongside about 100 journalists and photographers.

A complaint lodged by a Spanish state prosecutor in June said Messi and his father tried to conceal earnings from the player's image rights. The complaint alleged the Argentina international owed 4 million euros ($5.3 million) in back taxes from 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Messi's father made a payment of more than 5 million euros ($6.6 million) on Aug. 14 to cover alleged back taxes and interest.

Messi and his father were originally ordered to appear at the court near Messi's home outside of Barcelona on Sept. 17, but the date was postponed.

A representative said Messi or his father would speak to reporters later.

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