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Princess Cristina of Spain Tried for Embezzlement Scam


Princess Cristina of Spain has become the first member of the country’s royal family to be put on trial.

The princess is charged with being an accomplice in an alleged embezzlement scam involving her husband Inaki Urdangarin and 16 other defendants, who all deny the charges.

Infanta Cristina, 50, faces eight years in jail if found guilty by a three-member panel of judges.

The trial in Palma, Majorca, is seen as an embarrassment for the royal family.

Princess Cristina arrived at the court in Palma on January 11 with Inaki Urdangarin, who is accused of embezzlement and money laundering.

They made no statement to reporters. A small group of anti-monarchists protested outside.

As the judges read out the charges, the princess sat at the back of a makeshift courtroom at the public administration school in Palma. Inaki Urdangarin sat in the same row but court rules prevented them from sitting together.

Three rows of six defendants sitting in court on blue chairs, facing the panel of judges.

Photo AP

Photo AP

In the third row, at one end, sits Princess Cristina, sixth in line to the Spanish throne.

It’s something many people in Spain thought they would never see – the powerful being held to account.

Princess Cristina’s lawyers will try to get charges against her dismissed. In a country where corruption has become a huge political issue, this is a big moment.

Inaki Urdangarin’s supposedly non-profit Noos Institute sports foundation was allegedly used as a vehicle to win falsely inflated contracts from regional government bodies, before channeling the money to personal accounts via tax havens.

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

If found guilty, Inaki Urdangarin could face 19 years and six months in jail.

Princess Cristina was a board member at the foundation and, with Inaki Urdangarin, co-owned a real estate company called Aizoon, which prosecutors say was used to launder embezzled funds.

One of the allegations against Princess Cristina is that she made 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.

The case was launched in 2010 by a judge investigating corruption among Balearic Islands officials. It has become highly symbolic of perceived corruption among Spain’s elites, including the royal family.