Spanish princess appears at fraud trial

Cristina de Borbon, January 2016Image copyright
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Princess Cristina is sixth in line to the Spanish throne

Spain’s Princess Cristina has testified for the first time at her trial for alleged tax fraud, answering only the questions posed by her own lawyer.

She told the court in Mallorca that she had never asked her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, how he ran a property company they jointly owned.

Mr Urdangarin is accused of using his royal connections to generate business income they used for private spending.

Both deny any wrongdoing. Fifteen other defendants are also on trial.

Princess Cristina, the 50-year-old sister of King Felipe, could face a maximum of eight years in jail if found guilty.

She denies knowledge of the alleged embezzlement scam that also involves her husband and 16 other defendants.

Asked by her lawyer during the 20-minute appearance why she never talked with her husband about what the company did, Princess Cristina said they “weren’t issues that interested me”.

“At that time my children were very small and we were very busy. He was in charge of the family expenses. I didn’t get involved in that,” she added.

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The princess married Inaki Urdangarin in 1997 – they lost their royal titles last year

The case was launched in 2010 and has become highly symbolic of perceived corruption among Spain’s elites, including the royal family.

Last year, King Felipe stripped his sister and her husband Inaki Urdangarin of their titles, the Duke and Duchess of Palma de Mallorca.

Princess Cristina now lives in Switzerland, but remains the sixth in line to the Spanish throne and is the first member of the royal family to go on trial.

The princess’s lawyers argued that as public prosecutors had refused to press charges against her, the counts should be dismissed.

But the three judges agreed to continue with the prosecution using the evidence filed by the the anti-corruption group Manos Limpias, meaning “Clean Hands”.

The charges relate to the real estate company Aizoon that she owned with her husband, a former Olympic handball medallist.

She is accused of making personal use of Aizoon funds for paying for clothes and dance lessons for the couple’s children, as well as work on the couple’s Barcelona mansion, which reduced the firm’s taxable profits.

Her husband is alleged to have used the non-profit Noos Institute sports foundation he ran as a vehicle to win falsely inflated contracts from regional government bodies, before channelling the money to personal accounts via tax havens.

Noos is alleged to have received more than €6m (£4.4m; $6.5m) of public money, most of it from the Balearic Islands and Valencia regional governments.

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