Princess Cristina to give testimony in royal corruption case

Fri Feb 7, 2014 6:09pm EST
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By Teresa Larraz Mora

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain (Reuters) - Spain's Princess Cristina - younger daughter of King Juan Carlos - will appear in court for questioning by a judge on Saturday in a corruption case that has deepened public anger over ruling class graft at a time of government spending cuts.

It is the first time since the monarchy was restored in 1975 after the Francisco Franco dictatorship that a member of the royal family has been hauled into court in a criminal proceeding.

Cristina faces preliminary charges of tax fraud and money laundering linked to her use of funds from a shell company she co-owned with her husband Inaki Urdangarin, who is charged with crimes including embezzling 6 million euros of public money.

The princess, 48, accompanied by her lawyer, must answer dozens of questions from the judge in a closed-door hearing set to start at 10 a.m. local time (5.00 a.m. ET) at the main court building in Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands.

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, is accused of using his royal connections to win generous no-bid contracts from the Balearic government to put on sports and marketing events during the boom years before a 2008 property market crash, when local governments were awash with cash.

He and his partners in a consulting firm called the Noos Institute are accused of overcharging, and of charging for services never provided.

The court gave the princess - accused of using Noos Institute proceeds to pay for items such as expensive remodeling of her Barcelona mansion - special permission to be driven to the courthouse door, citing security reasons.

That decision has sparked public outrage because it allows the princess to dodge hundreds of television cameras.   Continued...

An overall view of the courtroom in the Palma de Mallorca courthouse is seen one day before Spain's Princess Cristina is due to testify, February 7, 2014. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo