Sophia Loren Cleared of Wrongdoing in 40-Year-Old Tax Case

Ian Gavan/Getty Images For Pirelli
Sophia Loren

The 79-year-old actress served 17 days in jail three decades ago as her appeal worked through Italy's slow-moving justice system.

ROME -- Italy's Supreme Court finally and officially cleared Sophia Loren of tax evasion charges that briefly landed her in jail 31 years ago, prompting the 79-year-old diva to declare the tardy decision a "miracle of justice."

Italy's justice system is notoriously slow, but this case has been drawn out even by Italian standards.

The charges stem from the 1974 tax return for the Oscar-winning actress. She declared less income that year because compensation on Vittorio De Sica's The Voyage (Il viaggio) -- her work on the film earned her a David di Donatello nomination that year -- was deferred. As such, she was in a lower tax bracket and paid taxes on 60 percent of her income when tax officials said she should have paid a 70-percent rate.

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Loren appealed the ruling and stayed away from Italy for several years, but she returned in 1982 and served 17 days of a 30-day jail term in a low-security women's prison. The appeal has been inching through the justice system ever since, until the Supreme Court ruled this week that Loren was right and should have never been jailed.

Rather than express anger at the erroneous conviction against her nearly 40 years ago, Loren was philosophical about the decision, saying that when "it seems there is no longer any hope, it is still possible justice will be done."

Loren's lawyer, Giovanni Desideri, was less charitable, calling the situation "Kafkaesque" -- a reference to the surreal writings of Franz Kafka -- and calling on tax authorities to issue Loren a formal apology.

Twitter: @EricJLyman