Spain's Princess Cristina faces trial on corruption charges

Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:29pm EDT
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By Fiona Ortiz and Raquel Castillo

MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish court on Wednesday upheld corruption charges against Cristina de Borbon, sister of newly-crowned King Felipe VI, and her husband in one of the last steps before a trial that could cloud the monarchy's bid to rebuild its reputation.

The rulings by the Palma de Mallorca court come barely a week after King Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of his son, who sought to repair the royal family's scandal-worn image with a promise of honesty and transparency when he took the throne.

The court said it had formalized charges of tax fraud and money laundering against Princess Cristina, 49, who was caught up in an investigation of her husband Inaki Urdangarin's business dealings.

Urdangarin, 46, a former Olympic handball player, is accused of using his connections to win public contracts to put on events through his non-profit organization Noos Foundation, and of embezzling several millions of euros in public funds.

The couple, who have four children, are now a few administrative steps away from being put on trial. They have both denied wrongdoing.

Defense attorneys for Cristina de Borbon and Urdangarin told reporters they would appeal Wednesday's ruling, as did the anti-corruption prosecutor of the Balearics, where the investigation is centred. The prosecutor has said repeatedly that he does not believe there is evidence that the princess committed a crime.

Under Spanish law, prosecutors can file briefs on behalf of the defense if they disagree with the examining magistrate who is investigating a case and who has a dual role as prosecutor and judge.

In his 167-page ruling, Palma Examining Magistrate Jose Castro said there was evidence that the couple had paid for dozens of personal items - from parking tickets to children's birthday parties to a trip to Rio de Janeiro - out of a shell company he said was used to launder proceeds from the Noos Foundation.   Continued...

Spain's Princess Cristina, daughter of King Juan Carlos, arrives at a courthouse to testify before judge Jose Castro over tax fraud and money-laundering charges in Palma de Mallorca February 8, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hanna