Princess Cristina of Spain has been cleared in a tax fraud trial.
The 51-year-old is the older sister of King Felipe and sixth in line to Spain’s throne.
Her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, was given a 6-year-and-three-month jail term by the court in Majorca.
Inaki Urdangarin, 49, was accused of using his royal connections to generate business income used for private spending.
The case began in 2010 and became symbolic of perceived corruption among Spain’s elites, including the royals.
There were 16 other defendants in the case, including former government minister Jaume Matas, who was sentenced to three years and eight months.
Inaki Urdangarin’s former business partner, Diego Torres, was given 8 years and six months. Nine defendants in all were acquitted.
Princess Cristina, who now lives in Switzerland, was the first member of Spain’s royal family to go on trial since the monarchy’s restoration in 1975.
In 2015, King Felipe VI stripped her and her husband of their titles as Duke and Duchess of Palma de Mallorca.
Although Princess Cristina was absolved, she will still have to pay a fine of €265,000 ($282,000) as she has civil responsibility for benefiting, albeit unknowingly, from illegal gains.
Princess Cristina and Inaki Urdangarin were not in court for the verdict, which is subject to appeal. Both had denied wrongdoing.
The princess had been accused of being an accessory to tax fraud.
Public prosecutors had declined to press charges against Princess Cristina but the three judges agreed to continue with the prosecution using evidence filed by the anti-corruption group Manos Limpias, meaning “Clean Hands”.
Last March, Princess Cristina told the court that her husband was in charge of family finances, saying: “I didn’t get involved in that.”
Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball medalist, had faced a slew of more serious charges.
He was accused of using the non-profit Noos Institute sports foundation he ran 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.
One of the companies said to have received money, real estate firm Aizoon, was jointly owned by Princess Cristina and Inaki Urdangarin.
King Felipe VI of Spain has stripped sister Princess Cristina of her title as Duchess of Palma ahead of her tax fraud trial.
Infanta Cristina, who is to go on trial charged with tax evasion, was granted the Duchess of Palma de Mallorca title in 1997 when she married Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player who is also accused of tax evasion.
Princess Cristina had asked King Felipe to remove her title, her lawyer said.
However, the royal palace said the king made the decision before seeing her request. Princess Cristina denies the tax fraud charges.
In the year since King Felipe, 47, succeeded his father, King Juan Carlos, to the throne, he has excluded Princess Cristina de Borbon and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, who faces a wider array of corruption charges in the case, from the royal family’s official functions.
Prosecutors in Palma de Mallorca have long been investigating the business dealings of Inaki Urdangarin.
Inaki Urdangarin stands accused with 15 others of embezzling 5.6 million euros ($6 million) of public money from the Noos Institute – a charitable sports foundation he ran with a business partner. Princess Cristina is accused of involvement in the alleged scam.
It is the first time in modern Spain’s history that a member of the royal family has faced court cross-examination in a major corruption scandal.
Princess Cristina, 50, is the youngest daughter of former King Juan Carlos, who abdicated last year.
An investigating judge recommended that Princess Cristina of Spain, sister of King Felipe VI, be charged in a tax fraud and money laundering case that has helped inflame opposition to the monarchy.
Infanta Cristina, 49, was questioned in court in February about the business dealings of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, and could now face trial.
However, an appeal has been lodged against the decision.
The judge’s ruling will come as an embarrassment to Felipe VI, who came to the throne only six days ago.
The tax fraud case was one of several scandals that weakened the popularity of the Spanish monarchy and prompted the abdication of King Juan Carlos.
Princess Cristina’s appearance in court in Mallorca was unprecedented for the royal family and if she goes to trial, she could face up to 11 years in jail.
Princess Cristina’s appearance in court in Mallorca was unprecedented for the royal family and if she goes to trial
The investigating judge’s decision is a major development in this investigation and a huge embarrassment for the Spanish royal family.
Judge Jose Castro believes Infanta Cristina knew more than she has let on regarding the allegedly corrupt activities of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin.
This inquiry has now lasted more than three years and during that time it has heavily eroded the popularity of the royal family. Princess Cristina has already appeared in court to testify, but the door is now open for her to face trial, which would take the scandal to a new level.
Judge Jose Castro has been investigating allegations that the princess’s husband embezzled millions in public funds with a former business partner.
Inaki Urdangarin, who is the Duke of Palma, and Diego Torres were alleged to have received 5.6 million euros ($7.5 million) by overcharging regional governments for organizing sporting events as part of a not-for-profit organization called Noos.
Announcing his decision, Judge Jose Castro said the princess should be tried alongside her husband and other suspects.
Anti-corruption prosecutors had already opposed his decision to name Princess Cristina as a suspect, saying there was insufficient evidence against her. Prosecutor Pedro Horrach said on Wednesday an appeal was being lodged “because there is still no piece [of evidence] against” the princess.
A final decision on whether Princess Cristina should stand trial will be made by the provincial court at Palma de Mallorca.
Princess Cristina of Spain is due to be questioned in court in connection with a corruption scandal involving the business dealings of her husband Inaki Urdangarin.
It will be the first time in history that a member of Spain’s royal family has appeared in court as the subject of a criminal investigation.
Inaki Urdangarin is alleged to have defrauded regional governments of millions of euros of public money.
Infanta Cristina and Inaki Urdangarin deny any wrongdoing, and have not been charged.
Spain’s royal household admits the case has damaged the reputation and credibility of Spain’s royals, and, partly because of this scandal, the popularity of King Juan Carlos has fallen in recent years.
Pro-republican campaigners have vowed to demonstrate near the court.
Princess Cristina of Spain is due to be questioned in court in connection with a corruption scandal involving the business dealings of her husband Inaki Urdangarin
Princess Cristina, 48, will be accompanied by her lawyer as she answers dozens of questions from a judge in a closed-door hearing.
Proceedings are set to start at 10:00 local time at the main court building in Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands.
The judge has named her as a fraud and money-laundering suspect.
The allegations relate to a supposedly not-for-profit organization called Noos, of which Inaki Urdangarin was president.
The foundation staged a series of sporting events for the regional governments of the Balearic Islands and Valencia.
Inaki Urdangarin is accused of organizing the events at hugely inflated prices.
With a former business partner, he is alleged to have received a total of 5.6 million euros ($7.5 million) in public money.
Princess Cristina is suspected of spending some of that money on personal expenses.
There are also questions about what Princess Cristina knew about the alleged wrongdoing of her husband.
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