News Column

Spanish Princess Suspect in Corruption Case

April 3, 2013

Madrid (dpa) - Spain's Princess Cristina has been named a suspect in a corruption case involving her husband, a court in Palma de Majorca said Wednesday.

The daughter of King Juan Carlos was the first direct member of the royal family to be made a criminal suspect. Investigating judge Jose Castro summoned her for questioning in Palma de Majorca on April 27.

Prosecutors investigating the corruption case have maintained there was no evidence against the princess and said they would lodge an appeal against the judge's decision.

The appeal would first be handled by Castro himself. If the judge rejects it, it could be taken to a provincial court.

Cristina, 47, is the second of Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia's three children. She is the seventh in line to the throne.

Her husband, the former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, and his former business partner Diego Torres are being investigated over allegations they embezzled more than 6 million euros (7.8 million dollars) in public funds through the non-profit Noos Institute.

The charity, which Urdangarin headed from 2004 to 2006, organized sports and tourism events in the Balearic Islands and in eastern Valencia.

Urdangarin has already been questioned twice by Castro, whose investigation began in 2011.

Cristina sat on the Noos board and co-owned one of the companies that her husband allegedly used to divert funds.

Castro based his ruling partly on emails that Urdangarin sent to his wife. The messages were handed over to the court by Torres, who is allegedly attempting to minimize his role in the scandal by implicating the palace.

Castro also heeded information given by Carlos Garcia Revenga, Cristina's secretary and another suspect in the case.

The judge said that while the evidence did not point to Cristina actively participating in the daily running of Urdangarin's activities, it did give the impression that she lent him her image to help him obtain business contracts.

Juan Carlos, 75, is the only member of the Spanish royal family to enjoy immunity from prosecution.

The royal palace said it did not comment on judicial decisions.

Socialist opposition leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said he "respected" Castro's decision because "justice in Spain is the same for all." Far-left leader Cayo Lara hailed the ruling as showing that at least some judges acted independently in Spain.

Castro's decision came as a blow to the Spanish monarchy, whose image has already been tarnished by the Urdangarin scandal.

Last year, Juan Carlos also came under criticism for going on a luxury hunting trip during Spain's economic crisis and for media reports of his alleged marital infidelities.

This week, left-wing parties asked the king to explain the fate of 2.3 million euros allegedly received in inheritance from his father 20 years ago.

The Urdangarin scandal has sparked some calls for the king to abdicate in favour of Crown Prince Felipe, but the palace has said he has no such plans.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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