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Opera star rape suspect slams Sweden

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14:38 CET+01:00
Swedish opera star Tito Beltran has lashed out at his adoptive country ahead of his forthcoming rape trial, describing the country as "worse than Chile during the dictatorship".

Believing himself to be the victim of ethnic discrimination, the popular tenor has vowed to burn his Swedish passport after the trial.

"Swedes are as racist as they come," Beltran told Chilean newspaper Las Últimas Noticias. "This country doesn't tolerate 'blackheads' [svartskallar], of which I am one," he added.

Beltran, 42, is accused of raping an 18-year-old nanny at a hotel in Nötesjö in Skåne following his participation in a Rhapsody in Rock concert in the area in 1999.

"When all this is over I am going to hold a press conference so the whole world can watch as I burn my passport and tell the Swedes to take a running jump," Beltran told Las Últimas Noticias.

The Chilean-born singer goes on trial this Friday at Ystad District Court. Speaking from his remand centre at the weekend, Beltran told tabloid Aftonbladet that he had only given the nanny, who worked for actress Maria Lundqvist, a back massage.

Beltran said that the young woman came to his room, eventually stripping down to her underwear. He said they slept side by side, but insisted that it was "very innocent."

The tenor believes the accusations made against him to be part of a conspiracy orchestrated by a former relative, a prosecutor and a number of famous Swedes, Expressen reports.

"I have spent 20 wonderful years in Sweden but now I have also seen its flip side and it is worse than Chile during the dictatorship," Beltran told the newspaper.

The singer explained to Las Últimas Noticias that he had lost 10 kilos since being taken into custody in early December.

"But that is only because I am disgusted by Swedish food. I want nothing more from that country," he said.

Following the alleged rape, Maria Lundqvist encouraged her nanny to report Beltran to the police. She is now among those set to testify against the tenor. Among other stars due to give evidence in court are musician Robert Wells, Eurovision star Carola Häggkvist and singer Lill Lindfors.

Beltran meanwhile has rejected calls from the public prosecutor for the trial to be held behind closed doors.

"It has to be public so that nobody can manipulate any evidence," he told the Chilean newspaper.

Tito Beltran has become a well-known tenor in opera houses around the world, performing regularly at London's Royal Opera and the San Francisco Opera. He has also made regular appearances on Swedish television.

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