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Chilean stars in demo for Beltran

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Chilean stars in demo for Beltran
15:12 CET+01:00
A number of Chile's leading singers and musicians gathered in Santiago on Thursday to pledge their support for Swedish-Chilean opera star Tito Beltran, who is appearing in a Swedish court on rape charges.

At 3pm Swedish time (11am in Chile), a group of musicians assembled in front of the President's residence in the Chilean capital to hand over a letter, sing songs and demonstrate on behalf of Beltran, a Chilean-born singer who has spent the last 20 years of his life in Sweden.

Beltran, 42, denies raping a then 18-year-old woman at his hotel room in Nötesjö after returning from a performance at a star-studded Rhapsody in Rock concert in southern Sweden in 1999.

The singer's wife, Jenny Beltran, said that she had not yet had the opportunity to speak to her husband about the demonstration in Santiago.

"But I hope the news has reached him. It would mean a lot to him and would give him strength," she told The Local.

Jenny Beltran said she had spoken on the phone with her husband's manager in Chile just as the demonstration got underway.

"There were lots of musicians there. She was crying. She said it was very emotional."

The signatories of the letter presented to officials in Santiago included Beltran's parents and sister, renowned musician Margot Loyola, Cervantes Prize winner Gonzalo Rojas and a large number of other prominent musicians.

"It is not that strange that our fellow countryman fainted on Wednesday. The pressures on him have been excessive," they wrote.

Beltran, 42, collapsed at Ystad District Court on Wednesday after listening to the testimony of his one-time friend, musician Robert Wells.

Ystad Hospital said in a statement on Thursday that the patient was doing well and could be discharged pending the administration of medication.

He remains in custody and is expected to return to court on Monday.

According to the Santiago protesters, Beltran was detained without proof for more than a month by a justice system that displayed a number of irregularities.

Furthermore, the accusations against him were made by a third party rather than the woman, now 28, who claims to have been raped, they said.

The signatories also characterized as "unusual" the presence at the trial of a large number of Swedish celebrities testifying against Beltran.

According to the letter, members of the Chilean community in Sweden had expressed fears that the tenor risked being convicted despite a lack of concrete proof.

“In other words, Tito Beltran, the great Chilean tenor [...], who represents us on the stages of the world, could be declared guilty on the basis of "evidence" for the sole reason that he does not have the sympathy of certain groups in the country simply because he is an immigrant,” they wrote.

Paul O'Mahony & Jasmine Enberg

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