UK & World News

  • 8 February 2014, 16:52

Infanta Cristina: Spanish Royal Faces Court

The seventh in line to the Spanish throne has appeared in court to face questions over an alleged financial scandal engulfing her husband.

Princess Cristina is under formal investigation over claims a company she co-owned with her spouse Inaki Urdangarin was used to launder hundreds of thousands of euros from a charitable organisation.

Urdangarin has already been charged with fraud, tax evasion, falsifying documents and embezzling six million euros of public funds. It is alleged he and his business partner overcharged regional governments to stage sporting events and then pocketed the cash.

He denies the charges, but the prosecutor investigating the case claims there is evidence to suggest the Princess not only knew about the alleged scam, but helped hide the proceeds.

The charge brought against the Duchess of Palma de Mallorca is known as an "imputacion" in Spanish law which is more serious than a subpoena but not a full indictment.

It is the latest embarrassment for the Spanish royal family, which has seen its popularity nosedive in recent years.

In 2012 King Juan Carlos was revealed to have travelled to Botswana to hunt elephants which not only enraged anti-blood sport campaigners but also many Spaniards who were enduring the worst effects of the financial crisis.

A poll by Sigma Dos published on January 5 suggested nearly two-thirds of Spaniards believe the King should abdicate after assuming the throne in 1975 when the monarchy was restored.

Royal writer Jose Garcia Abad told the Reuters news agency that the court appearance is a hugely significant event.

"It's the gravest thing that has happened to the monarchy which has been going through what the Queen of England would call an 'annus horribilis'," he said.

"In this case it's been longer than a year, where the monarchy has gradually and slowly lost more support from the people than any time over the last 20 years."

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