Police arrested Sophia Loren and jailed her on tax...


ROME -- Police arrested Sophia Loren and jailed her on tax offense charges today as the Italian actress voluntarily returned to her homeland from a decade of exile but a prison spokesman said she might soon be freed.

Police were waiting for Miss Loren, 47, when her plane arrived at Fiumicino airport with her sister, Maria Scicolone, from Geneva, Switzerland. Miss Loren was immediately arrested and taken to prison.


Miss Loren, Italy's top movie star for more than 20 years, said she decided to serve the sentence because 'I want to see my mother, my sister, my country and my friends.'

'We shall have to see what the judge handling the case says,' a spokesman for the women's jail at Caserta, near Naples, said shortly after the actress entered a cell there.

'The judge might agree to free her on provisional liberty,' he said, 'or she might benefit from a special 'semi-liberty' regime.


The 'semi-liberty' regime permits certain prisoners to go free during the daytime and return to prison only to spend the nights.

The possibily existed that President Sandro Pertini might pardon Miss Loren, who has been called 'a national monument' by an admiring press.

In the meantime, the prison spokesman said, Miss Loren had a cell to herself, furnished with television, table and chairs and a toilet and wash basin.

Wearing a light brown silk suit, a high-necked silk blouse, a knitted wool hat and tinted spectacles, Miss Loren looked worried when she arrived in Rome.

Miss Loren's elderly husband, movie producer Carlo Ponti, did not accompany her on the flight and was believed to be in Switzerland. Ponti was cleared of charges of defrauding the government of $2.2 million from his movie profits in January and has been able to return to Rome since then.

Miss Loren's tax problem stemmed from 1963-64 when she failed to pay 112 million lire ($180,000) supplementary taxes on her film-making income.

Miss Loren, the mother of two sons, had been living in Paris and in Geneva since a dispute with the Italian government over back taxes. She frequently decried the fact that because of the tax situation she could not visit her homeland.


After formally notifying her of the prison order, of which she was aware before her arrival, police put her in a squad car under escort and drove her to the prison at Caserta, near Naples, where she will serve the sentence.

Miss Loren had announced in Switzerland her decision to return to Rome and knew she faced a 30-day jail sentence and a fine of $9,300 imposed on her by the top Italian appeals court in September 1980. Press reports said Miss Loren also wanted to return to Italy to make a television movie under the direction of Lina Wertmueller, Italy's top woman film director.

But at the airport, Miss Loren told reporters: 'I have not returned to make a film, but because I love Italy.'

She recalled that she had asked Pertini for a pardon.

'I am worried about the period I must spend in jail,' she said. 'It is not my fault that I find myself in this situation, but the fault of my tax accountant.'

Before leaving Geneva, she told an Italian television reporter: 'I am going back to serve my sentence, even though it is unjust. This situation arose from a little error of my tax accountant who has since died.'


Asked whether she planned to read books in jail, she replied: 'This is such a traumatic experience for me that I do not know what I shall do in jail. I am content to go and serve this unjust sentence because I want to see my mother, my sister, my country and my friends.'

Miss Loren, born Sophia Scicolone in the slums of Naples, rose to become one of the best-known women film stars in history. She appeared with Italian matinee idol Marcello Mastroianni in such classics as 'Marriage Italian Style' and 'Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.' She won an Oscar for 'Two Women.'

She later played opposite such Hollywood male stars as Clark Gable and Cary Grant and with British actor Peter Sellers.

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