MADRID (CBS/AP) In an action that could put him behind bars, actor Sean Connery declined to appear in a Spanish court Friday as requested by the judge investigating an allegedly shady real estate deal involving property the actor used to own in Costa Del Sol.
In a letter, the 80-year-old actor told the judge he cannot travel to Spain because of his age and unspecified health issues.
Connery and his wife, Micheline Roquebrune, had been summoned to testify on Friday. They have not been charged with a crime in the affair known in Spain as the "Goldfinger Case" in reference to Connery's turn as 007 agent James Bond.
The official said the magistrate, who earlier this year had threatened to issue an international arrest warrant against actor, will decide next week how to proceed. His options include sending Spanish officials to question Connery personally, the official said, although he said he did not know where Connery is now. The actor owns a home in the Bahamas and an apartment in New York..
The court official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with court rules.
The probe involves a beachfront mansion near Marbella that Connery used to own and nearby land which was allegedly rezoned to allow condominiums to be built. The court official declined to give details but Spanish news reports says the judge is probing possible tax evasion in the land project.
For 20 years Connery vacationed at his lavish property, Malibu, before selling it in 1998.
Marbella was once synonymous with glitz but in more recent years has been tarnished by corruption.
In 2006 the Spanish government took the unprecedented step of dissolving the entire Marbella city council amid a scandal in which city officials were accused of accepting bribes and other favors in exchange for granting building permits during a nationwide real estate boom that largely fueled Spain's economy but has since collapsed.
A total of 95 people went on trial in that case last month, although the case involving Connery and others is separate.