Fri, Mar 04, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Mike Tyson the crooner slams US justice system

AP , ROME

Mike Tyson criticized the US justice system and said "lies" sent him to prison for three years for rape, during an appearance on Wednesday on Italian television that had prompted angry protests from women's groups.

The former heavyweight boxing champion, who was convicted in 1992 of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant in Indianapolis, was a guest at a popular Italian music festival that often relies on foreign celebrities to liven-up the show.

"I don't respect the judicial system, I think there's a long way to go, even though the United States is a great country," Tyson said.

"My conviction was based on a lie," he said.

He said many of the US' inmates were convicted unjustly.

"The United States, essentially, is an industry that just wants to put people in jail. They just keep building prisons," he said.

Several groups, including an Italian hotline for women to report domestic violence, had asked that Tyson's appearance be canceled.

But Fabrizio Del Noce, director of the channel showing the week long San Remo Song Festival, declined. He said Tyson had paid his debt to society.

The rest of Tyson's television appearance was more lighthearted. He started off singing to the tune of a popular Italian song along with the show's host, and ended with a rap version of "New York, New York."

During his interview, Tyson said he has been training for a match scheduled for June in Washington, but did not elaborate.

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